On July 10, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan of Turkey announced his decision to convert the Hagia Sophia in Istanbul from its long-term status as a museum to a mosque. Today the ELCA joined the global ecumenical family in calling on the Turkish government to maintain the Hagia Sophia as a museum rather than converting it into a mosque.
“As a church, we join with our Christian family and our Muslim neighbors in calling for the Hagia Sophia to remain a museum,” said ELCA Presiding Bishop Elizabeth Eaton in a statement. “Turning it back into a mosque is not only a return to divisive history but an erasure of a living religious and spiritual expression. The whole human family stands to benefit when the Hagia Sophia serves not only as a site for holy pilgrimage but as a sacred place for encounter and exchange among peoples of different religions and cultures.”
Since Erdoğan’s announcement, the World Council of Churches, the Middle East Council of Churches, the Ecumenical Patriarchate and Orthodox Churches worldwide, the Vatican, and the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the USA have decried the decision and called for its reversal.