Studying Orthodox Christianity and Human Rights

Dr. Christopher Sheklian, the director of the Eastern Diocese’s Krikor and Clara Zohrab Information Center, participated in the first meeting of the Seminar on Orthodoxy and Human Rights, at Fordham University on March 20-22. Convened by Fordham’s Orthodox Christian Studies Center, the five-year project pairs scholars and journalists in a study of Orthodoxy and human rights around the world.

The seminar worked within a broad understanding of Orthodox Christianity, that includes not only Eastern Orthodox but also Oriental Orthodox traditions such as the Armenian Church. For this first meeting, participants came from the United States, Greece, and Russia. While they represented a wide range of disciplines, Dr. Sheklian was the only scholar in the group working in the field of Armenian Apostolic Christianity.

The sessions included presentations on the Moscow Patriarchate’s promotion of alternative ideas of human rights at the United Nations, the status of the Coptic Church in Egypt and America, and a discussion with the noted legal historian Samuel Moyn.

Dr. Sheklian plans to use the support of the seminar to publish a book on the religious minority rights of Armenians in Turkey, and an article on how the Armenian Church’s Christological position might influence the idea of the human person integral to human rights.

The Seminar on Orthodoxy and Human Rights will meet again next year in March. The project is funded by the Henry Luce Foundation and the Leadership 100 Research Project.

Above: Diocesan Zohrab Center director Dr. Chris Sheklian with the directors of the Orthodox Christian Studies Center at Fordham University: Dr. George E. Demacopoulos (left) and Dr. Aristotle Papanikolaou (right).

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