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Biden’s Armenian Genocide Stance Pleases Christians, Angers Turkey

Image: Maja Hitij / Getty Images
The Armenian Genocide memorial complex in Yerevan, Armenia.

I was able to contribute additional reporting to this AP article. Here is an excerpt of testimony from 2 of 4 Armenian evangelical sources:

“The American people honor all those Armenians who perished in the genocide that began 106 years ago today,” Biden said in a statement. “We affirm the history. We do this not to cast blame but to ensure that what happened is never repeated.”

Rene Leonian, president of the Union of Armenian Evangelical Churches in Eurasia, told CT he “salutes the courage” of the US president.

“Biden will open a new page for the American nation. This new page will also allow other countries to follow his example,” he said. “I deeply hope that in the future, the Turkish State will do an in-depth work collectively with its own people, to acknowledge the guilt of the Turkish authorities of 1915.”

“In a Christian spirit, reconciliation is possible when the culprit recognizes his fault, regrets, and asks for forgiveness,” Leonian told CT. “What is impossible for men is possible for God! I believe that through prayer, patience, and perseverance, we will get there.”

Paul Haidostian, president of evangelical Haigazian University in Beirut, Lebanon, told CT he found Biden’s word choice to be “gratifying.”

“Late recognition is naturally better than no recognition. However, for me the use of the term genocide in a statement is not a simple sound bite,” he said. “It is a commitment to justice, and those who have recognized genocide as a historical fact must know that this is not a posthumous medal on a coffin; rather, a commitment for pursuing the matter in various ways, academic, political, curricular, economic, etc.”

Haidostian described how he has expected a US pronouncement every year of his adult life, as has the wider Armenian diaspora.

“Having to wait year after year for 106 years for presidents or parliaments of countries of the world to remember and call the atrocities in the proper way has been painful and has represented the defeat of a sense of justice in the face of political strategy,” he told CT.

“Armenian advocacy is not a political act or maneuver. It is the voice of the Armenian heart that has ached for so long.”

This article was originally published at Christianity Today on April 24, 2021. Please click here to read the full text.

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