Turkey's Religious Leaders Fear State Interference in Churches

Religious minorities fear that state interference in churches could increase, after a request was made for the government to fund the salaries of clergy and pastoral workers.

According to Fides news service, the Turkish Chief Ombudsman's Office received a joint statement from a group of religious leaders countering a request made for all religious minority communities' staff to be paid directly by the state.

The request was made by the president of the Foundation of the Armenian Church of Boyacıköy, Yerits Mangants, to the Turkish prime minister.

Currently, Christian religious and pastoral workers receive their salary from foundations connected to their churches. However, this is apparently considered by some to be an inefficient system and Mangants urged the prime minister to find a solution.

Turkish law requires that the prime minister must reply to this letter within 30 days.

The joint statement countering this request was made by a group of Armenian, Jewish, Assyrian and Greek-Orthodox leaders, who insist that foundations must bear responsibility for the wage distribution of religious workers.

Turkey is a Muslim majority country, with Christians making up around 100,000 of the 80 million-strong population.

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