H.Res. 306: Urging the Republic of Turkey to safeguard its Christian heritage and to return confiscated church properties

H.Res. 306

Urging the Republic of Turkey to safeguard its Christian heritage and to return confiscated church properties

Sponsor
Rep. Ed Royce

Date
December 14, 2011 (112th Congress, 1st Session)

Staff Contact
Communications

Floor Situation

On Tuesday, December 13, 2011, the House is scheduled to consider H.Res. 306 under a suspension of the rules, requiring a two-thirds majority vote for passage.  The resolution was introduced by Rep. Ed Royce (R-CA) on June 15, 2011 and referred to the Committee on Foreign Affairs.

Bill Summary

H.Res. 306 would urge the Government of Turkey to honor its obligations under international treaties and human rights law to:

(1)   end all forms of religious discrimination;

(2)   allow the rightful church and lay owners of Christian church properties, without hindrance or restriction, to organize and administer prayer services, religious education, clerical training, appointments, and succession, religious community gatherings, social services, including ministry to the needs of the poor and infirm, and other religious activities;

(3)   return to their rightful owners all Christian churches and other places of worship, monasteries, schools, hospitals, monuments, relics, holy sites, and other religious properties, including movable properties, such as artwork, manuscripts, vestments, vessels, and other artifacts; and

(4)   allow the rightful Christian church and lay owners of Christian church properties, without hindrance or restriction, to preserve, reconstruct, and repair, as they see fit, all Christian churches and other places of worship, monasteries, schools, hospitals, monuments, relics, holy sites, and other religious properties within Turkey.

Background

According to the bill’s sponsor, Rep. Royce (R-CA), "Religious minorities are under grave threat in today's Turkey. Turkey is 99 percent Muslim. But rather than enjoying protection, very vulnerable religious minority groups including the Ecumenical Patriarchate of the Greek Orthodox Church are denied full legal status."  Royce added, "This [bill] calls on Turkey to allow all Turks to practice their faiths, return stolen church properties, and allow property owners to repair their churches. In Turkey, it is illegal for religious minority groups to study, practice, or teach one’s own faith.  If religious needs cannot be met, religious minority groups will decline, as they have, and in some cases—cease to exist. Turkey has an international obligation to see that this doesn't happen."

Cost

There is no CBO cost estimate available for this bill.