Turkey Must Release Pastor Andrew Brunson from Prison!
Turkey’s crackdown on Christianity has put an American clergyman in jail for over 500 days without due process.
Pastor Andrew Brunson, an American clergyman and missionary from North Carolina, has lived peacefully in Turkey for the last 23 years. During his time in Turkey, Pastor Brunson, alongside his wife Noreen, has served as the pastor of a small Protestant congregation, of around 40 members, at the Izmir Resurrection Church on the west coast of Turkey.
Pastor Brunson and his wife Noreen, raised their three children in Turkey and had applied for permanent residency. In October 2016, when Pastor Brunson and Noreen were asked to go to the police station, they were under the impression it was to receive notification about the status of their permanent residency request. Instead, they were both locked into a prison cell, accused of collaborating in a conspiracy “against national security” and “membership of an armed terrorist organization.”
Noreen Brunson was released two days later while Pastor Andrew Brunson remains in prison awaiting trial, which is expected to begin on April 16, 2018.
A 62-page indictment was recently released against Pastor Brunson, claiming his involvement in "Christianization," which is being treated as an act of terrorism. Also, the indictment is full of false witnesses claiming Pastor Brunson misrepresented Christianity and spoke against the government. All which Pastor Brunson claims as untrue as he maintains his innocence.
Pastor Brunson is 50-years-old and, if convicted, these serious charges carry with them a 35-year sentence. Without pressure from President Donald J. Trump and the United States Department of State, this could be a life sentence for Pastor Brunson.
Furthermore, Pastor Brunson is not alone. Open Doors USA claims there are 187,000 Christians in Turkeys. Turkey is ranked 31st on their 2018 World Watch List. Christians face a “very high” level of persecution mainly stemming from “Islamic oppression.”
Open Doors USA claims, “Religious nationalism has grown to new heights. President Erdogan has strengthened his position, trying to transform Turkey from a secular state into a Sunni Muslim one. Leaving Islam for Christianity is considered a betrayal of the Turkish identity, Islam and the family. Christians have no access to state jobs and experience discrimination in private employment, especially where employers have ties to the government.”
Turkey as a member of NATO is claimed to be an ally of the United States. Yet, since a failed coup against the Turkish government by religious outsiders, Turkey has digressed in protecting the rights that the United States and our Constitution hold dearly as a pillar to all mankind.
Currently, freedom of religion, freedom of speech, or freedom to organize or demonstrate are among an unprotected class in Turkey. However, in the United States of America, rightfully so, our government protects the rights of Turkish citizens to practice their faith and live peacefully among others.
Sign our petition to demand the release of Pastor Andrew Brunson from prison.
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