January 6, 2009
New Book Promotes End to 75-year Split: Armenians Talk Peace, Unity
After 1933 Christmas Eve Murder
A new book by veteran CBS News correspondent Terry Phillips is
sparking grassroots peace talks 75 years after a brutal assassination
split the Armenian Apostolic Church in the United States (see also Hye
Murder at the Altar, a historical novel published by Hye Books
(), investigates the Depression-era killing of
Archbishop Ghevont Tourian in New York City. On Christmas Eve 1933,
the spiritual leader of this ancient Christian denomination was
stabbed to death as he led a Sunday morning procession down the center
aisle of Holy Cross Church. The vicious crime was reported on the
front page of every Manhattan daily newspaper.
"For three-quarters of a century, Armenians have treated the murder as
a taboo subject," says author Terry Phillips. "To this day, the church
remains divided along political lines. But people are finally willing
to talk about that painful event, understand why it happened and move
toward possible reconciliation."
Since the book was published earlier this year, Phillips has been
leading unprecedented, coast-to-coast discussions about the Tourian
"I am extremely gratified by the overwhelming public interest," he
says. "Except for a few fringe extremists, the book has been very well
received. Everywhere I go, people say it’s about time that someone
told this story."
Based on fact, Murder at the Altar is a dramatized account of the
Archbishop’s killing. It grew out of a dispute over the Armenian
movement for independence from the Soviet Union. Tourian was attacked
for refusing to take sides in the conflict. After his slaying, the
church separated into two factions, identical in every way except for
"Seventy-five years later," Phillips notes, "church officials remain
divided by past animosities. Today, there is no Soviet Union. Armenia
is independent. Why stay split? Why stay silent?"
Phillips covered the fall of the Soviet Empire and reported conflicts
throughout the USSR as well as Afghanistan, Bosnia, Somalia and Haiti.
Murder at the Altar is available through retail bookstores and
Keywords: Hye Books.
This article was prepared by Science Letter editors from staff and