Second Annual St. Andrew’s Human Rights and Religious Freedom Reception
Washington, DC – On November 29th, 2012, Congressman John Sarbanes convened the second annual St. Andrew’s Human Rights and Religious Freedom Reception on Capitol Hill. The Reception, which was held in the Rayburn House Office Building, was hosted by Senator Ben Cardin and Chris Smith of The Helsinki Commission, Representatives Frank Wolf and James P. McGovern of The Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission, Representatives Trent Franks and Heath Shuler of The International Religious Freedom Caucus, and Representatives Gus Bilirakis, Carolyn Maloney and John Sarbanes of The Hellenic Caucus.
Opening remarks were made by Representatives John Sarbanes, Gus Bilirakis and Dina Titus, followed by a lecture from Ivan Vejvoda, Vice President of The German Marshall Fund on “Human Rights, Religious Freedom and Civil Society.” Mr. Vejvoda spoke to the human rights and religious freedom experiences of the formerly communist countries of Eastern and Central Europe, as well as the current transition societies of North Africa. Mr. Vejvoda intoned that “We cannot tolerate intolerance,” as he recounted how intolerance precipitated the breakup of his home country Yugoslavia.
The second annual Saint Andrew’s Human Rights and Religious Freedom Reception was widely attended by members of Congress, Congressional staff, State Department officers, the diplomatic community, the Pan- Orthodox Community including representatives of The Order of Saint Andrew of The Ecumenical Patriarchate and Jewish, Hindu and Muslim faith based groups. Representatives from The German Marshall Fund, The Becket Fund, The Center for American Progress, International Orthodox Christian Charities and Habitat for Humanity also participated.
St. Andrew is the patron saint of The Ecumenical Patriarchate and he is venerated on November 30th in both the Western and Eastern Churches. Keeping with tradition, all guests were treated to pastries and refreshments in honor of the Feast Day Celebration of Saint Andrew.