Dear Neighbors, I’ve invited Senators Dick Sears and Bob Hartwell to join me on June 19 at 5 p.m. in Peru’s Town Office for a Legislative Wrap-up for all in the area, and beyond, who are interested. We plan to follow-up at J.J. Hapgoods for more informal conversation afterwards. We hope to see you there!

PATTI KOMLINE, Representative Bennington-Rutland

Dorset Opposed to New York’s Turkey Christian Churches Accountability Act

I join the Americans of Turkish descent, members of the Pax Turcica Institute, to strongly oppose House Resolution 4347 -- Turkey Christian Churches Accountability Act, currently referred to the House Foreign Affairs Committee. Influenced by some anti-Turkish interest groups led by its chief sponsor, Representative Ed Royce (R-CA), HR 4347 constitutes a brazen and offensive interference in the religious affairs of Turkey, a key U.S. and NATO ally.

HR 4347 unjustly accuses Turkey of religious discrimination based on a purely racist and preposterous historical narrative. Like the predecessor HR 306 in the 112th Congress, HR 4347 suggests turning over part of Turkey’s diverse cultural and historical heritage to some allegedly "rightful owners," while essentially denying the Turkish people the right to exist on their homeland. In its pinnacle of absurdity, HR 4347 derives an ownership of Mount Agri (Ararat) in Eastern Turkey as a Christian "holy site" from a Biblical legend of Noah’s Ark, the existence of which was never established.

Since its establishment over 90 years ago, the Turkish Republic has been the world’s first successful secular democracy with a predominantly Muslim population. This achievement was largely due to the reforms that separated church and state while equally protecting religious freedoms. More specifically, Article 24 of the Turkish Constitution guarantees the citizens’ rights for freedom of conscience, faith and religious education.

Shaped by these traditions, Turkish society has always rejected extremist doctrines, practiced religious tolerance, and advanced interfaith understanding.

By its unwarranted assertion of an ownership claim based on some religious sentiment, HR 4347 also contradicts the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which prohibits federal and state establishments from any religious preference.

I appeal to your conscience and common sense in dismissing HR 4347 which insults not only the Turkish people, but the very intelligence of American taxpayers.

GUVEN YALCINTAS

Rexford, N.Y.