A Note to Coptic-American Voters

The number of Copts in America in 1970 was tiny, and their economic power was meager. Still, some managed to pool their resources and buy buildings to establish native Churches. The process was relatively painless, money aside. Often the building belonged to a previous Protestant or Catholic denomination that saw its numbers dwindle. The permits were easy to come by, and the renovations were limited entirely by the resources of the flock. An early member of the Brooklyn Church in New York City remarked that “we can build more Churches here in America in ten years than in a hundred years in Egypt”. That came to pass. Few have asked how it came to be that Copts were able to come to America in the first place.

The US had placed strict limits on the number of immigrants from “brown countries” until the Celler-Hart act of 1965, which became administrative law in 1968. The Copts of Egypt would have had little chance to be in America if that law had not come to pass. The supporters of the law and the opponents of it are mostly dead or deep in retirement by now. But their literal and ideological descendants live on. When American Copts go to the polls on November 8 2016, one may humbly request that they remember which of the two candidates would have supported or opposed that law. One may further request that the vote be guided by what made their presence in America possible, not by the grievances of the old and damaged country.

— Maged Atiya


2 Comments on “A Note to Coptic-American Voters”

  1. Elie says:

    Hi Maged,

    I read your article, and with all due respect, I didn’t really understand your point.
    a quick look at the celler-hart bill shows the following:
    In the Senate, 52 Democrats voted yes, 14 no, and 1 abstained. Among Senate Republicans, 24 voted yes, 3 voted no, and 1 abstained.[10] In the House, 202 Democrats voted yes, 60 voted no and 12 abstained, 117 Republicans voted yes, 10 voted no and 11 abstained. One unknown representative voted yes.[11] In total, 74% of Democrats and 85% of Republicans voted for passage of this bill.

    which means, in brut numbers, more democrats voted yes than republicans, but also more democrat voted no.
    in percentages, the highest percentage of republicans voted yes (house and senate had a big majority of democrats at that time).
    however the big majority of both parties voted yes, so I don’t really follow your logic here on who voted yes and who voted no. it looks like both parties voted YES.

    having said that, and based on how your article started in terms of building and buying churches, and being a Lebanese Christians myself, having the same concerns you have, I believe it is a duty to tell your readers that regardless of the past, a Hilary Clinton presidency will mean a leftist supreme court, and a leftist supreme court will pass the law that forces churches to pay taxes, and that will lead to a vast majority of churches shutting down and selling their buildings to become night clubs or gyms (just like in Europe) etc… and among those churches our own churches will close down.

    ask yourself this question: can the Coptic church in Brooklyn afford a 30,000$ to 50,000$ property tax a year?
    because this is what we will have to deal with if Hilary Clinton wins.

    I think this is a lot more important to think about, than to think about who voted yes or no on the celler-hart bill back in 1965.


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