By Our Correspondent
A group of Christian professionals and highly placed individuals from diverse denominations in the United States and many nations of the world has come together to form an advocacy organisation aimed at putting an end to the persecution of Christians in religiously volatile regions of the world.
The organization, Orthodox Public Affairs Committee (OPAC) yesterday announced its official launch and the start of its work to expose and combat the persecution of Christians around the globe.
Co-founded by Americans George Gilicos, Andrew Veniopoulos and Nicholas Furris, OPAC, in accordance with its mission statement, “will provide public advocacy for the global Orthodox Christian Church, and promote, support, defend and champion worldwide Christianity in the face of oppression, exclusion and prejudice.”
In a Press Release signed by Danielle Orsino, OPAC’s Media Contact, further light was thrown on the mission and modus operandi of the organization.
According to Founder and Co-Chair George Gigicos, who was a former Deputy Assistant to the US President and Director of the White House Office of Presidential Advance, “For too long, the diminution and outright persecution of Christians has been accepted as status quo.”
Gigicos states further: “Although we are primarily Orthodox Christians, we will speak up for all people of faith, because the intolerance of one is the oppression of all. OPAC will bring to light the truth of what is happening in our world today, without fear or hesitation. We look forward to forging partnerships with those who share our values and our goals.”
OPAC also listed the seizure last July of Hagia Sophia in Turkey and its re-conversion into a mosque as the organizing motivation behind OPAC. This was as a result of what it termed “the clear historic and cultural precedents that were broken.”
Co-Founder, Nicholas Furris also lends his voice to the rationale behind the establishment of OPAC. In his words, “This kind of spiritual ‘theft,’ not only of a physical space, but also of its representational value, is unacceptable in the modern world, and OPAC will oppose it whenever and wherever it occurs.” While stating further that “Christianity is under attack by cultural misappropriation, discriminatory practices towards minorities and direct persecution around the world,” the Press Release promised that “OPAC will address these conditions with forceful advocacy to expose these anti-religious trends and garner support to reverse them.
We are committed to defending sacred space, whether it be physical, intellectual, moral or spiritual; to speak for the voiceless, to listen to the unheard, and to manifest the righteous causes of Christian Faithful Everywhere.”
The release also throws light on the composition and membership structure of OPAC, stating that “Our Advisory Council isn’t stacked with
academics, theologians or religious scholars. We asked ordinary, everyday people to serve with us who have actually experienced persecution themselves in Africa, the Balkans and other regions,” Co-Founder Andrew Veniopoulos stated. “It’s important to get their stories out, which for too long have fallen on deaf ears in the media and with policy makers around the world.”
Checks on the organization’s website OrthodoxPac.org and sundry information on its social media platforms tagged @OrthodoxPac revealed that OPAC membership and Advisory Board cut across several Christian denominations apart from the Orthodox Church origins of the founders.