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South Dakota, Virginia and Washington adopt religious freedom resolutions in support of the Ecumenical Patriarchate

South Dakota, Virginia and Washington became the 38th, 39th and 40th states to adopt Religious Freedom resolutions in support of the Ecumenical Patriarchate. The state resolutions project is part of a multi-faceted religious freedom initiative of the Order of Saint Andrew the Apostle, designed to safeguard the future of the Ecumenical Patriarchate. To date, 49 such resolutions have been adopted in 41 states.

In South Dakota, Father Sava Leida, Dr. Aristides Assimacopoulos and Father Thomas Williams spearheaded the successful effort in close cooperation with dedicated legislators who introduced the individual resolutions.

Senators Phyllis Heineman and Stanford Adelstein sponsored the resolution and spoke passionately in their remarks during the Senate debate.

Senator Heineman remarked, “Any single state resolution may not be enough to move a government to action. The cumulative effect of 44 of these resolutions, adopted across 37 states…, this has been noticed by the Turkish Foreign Ministry. These resolutions represent the will of the citizens of our nation …and are powerful statements to the Turkish Government of the importance that we place on religious freedom. It is important that South Dakota adds our voice to those other thirty seven.”

Senator Adelstein said, “As you all well know, I am not a Christian, but the Christian Patriarch should have the same rights as anyone of any faith anywhere in the world.”

The successful resolutions in Virginia and Washington each required over five years of sustained efforts, overcoming in both states organized opposition.

In Virginia, Father Nicholas Bacalis worked with Delegates Johnny Joannou and Manoli Loupassi to secure the adoption of the resolution.

The Washington initiative was led by Stefanos Vertopoulos, Isidoros Garifalakis, Cliff Argue, Bob Dingethal and Representative Bill Hinkle.

Representative Hinkle said, “We are gratified that the work of so many dedicated supporters throughout the state has added Washington to the list of states calling on the Turkish government to extend full religious freedom to the Ecumenical Patriarch.”

For further information about this project, contact Stephen Georgeson at, or visit

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