Lorenz Hörmann (University of Vienna, Faculty of Protestant Theology)

Native Turkish Christianity? – The Independent Turkish Orthodox Church

The topic of the proposed project is the “Independent Turkish Orthodox Church” (ITOK), which is relatively unknown even to experts of Orthodox and Oriental Orthodox Churches.

ITOK split off from the Greek Patriarchate of Constantinople in 1922, during the Turkish-Greek war, primarily in protest against the anti-Turkish activities of the Greek Patriarchate. The church has been Turkish-ultra-nationalist from its start. The founders’ goal was to enable the communities of Turkophone Christians in central Anatolia to be loyal to the newly emerging Turkish Republic while staying Orthodox-Christians.

After almost the entire community had to emigrate in 1923 as a result of the population exchange between Turkey and Greece, the community has been scattered leading to it frequently being described as extinct.

Scientific research on this church, especially on the period after 1930, is scarce.

The proposed project intends to go to the roots of indigenous Turkish Christianity. It aims to characterize the turbulent history and present of the ITOK on the one hand and its identity from an emic and an etic perspective on the other hand.

Through observations and interviews, as well as analyzes of newspaper articles and texts published by the ITOK, a broad picture of the views on the religious, national, ethnic and linguistic identity of the ITOK will be presented.