Christians are joining together to launch a campaign to free a U.S. pastor who is imprisoned in Turkey.
Christianity Today reports that pastor Andrew Brunson was detained and imprisoned by the Turkish government for allegedly having ties to the Gülen movement whose followers are accused of inciting last July’s coup in Turkey.
Bunson is the pastor of Izmir Resurrection Church on Turkey’s west coast. He has served as a missionary in Turkey for 23 years prior to being arrested.
The American Center for Law and Justice has taken on Brunson’s case and has launched a petition to have him released.
The petition has been signed by more than 100,000 people.
“As we approach Christmas—a season of hope and promise—we know that people around the world will stand with Pastor Andrew—will be Pastor Andrew’s voice—supporting his fight for freedom, and will join us in urging Turkey to release him immediately,” stated Jay Sekulow, chief counsel for the ACLJ.
Turkey has been a tumultuous place in recent months. Following the large-scale coup in July, 40,000 suspected dissidents have been arrested. And just this week, the Russian ambassador was murdered while in Turkey by a Muslim extremist.
Christians have a precarious position amidst the turmoil.
“Protestant or Christian churches are seen as an American influence, and now that Turkey is anti-American, they are being targeted even more,” Aykan Erdemir, senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and a former member of the Turkish parliament, told Religion News Service.
Turkey is primarily a Muslim country, with Christians and other non-Muslims comprising less than one percent of the population.
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Publication date: December 21, 2016