- - Friday, February 10, 2017

In January, Sen. James Lankford wrote the following words about “Turkey’s wavering support for religious freedom” — and in particular, its imprisonment of pastor Andrew Brunson

Mr. Brunson is a pastor of a small church on the west coast of Turkey. After living peacefully in Izmir for more than 20 years, he was imprisoned based on unsubstantiated allegations of ties to the Gulen movement, a group that many blame for the coup attempt in July. The local prosecutor has yet to produce compelling evidence against Pastor Brunson. I met with the Ministry of Justice in Ankara to discuss Pastor Brunson’s case, but the situation remains bleak.

Turkey should consider carefully how it handles the case of Pastor Brunson. America cares deeply about how our people are treated across the world, and we are watching closely. Aside from the personal struggle for Pastor Brunson and his family, America sees this as both a matter of religious freedom and safety for its citizens. If this is how Turkey treats an American like Andrew Brunson, other Americans will hesitate before taking their business to Turkey.

Brunson continues to be imprisoned. In response, the Evangelical Presbyterian Church has launched a petition drive to bring his case to the eyes of the President.

Brunson is an EPC teaching elder who was arrested in October 2016 and falsely charged with ‘membership in an armed terrorist organization’ in December. He has languished in prison for more than four months with no evidence against him.

The petition is available here.  It must reach 100,000 signatures by March 6 in order to be considered for response by White House officials.

In addition, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee is circulating an open letter requesting Andrew’s immediate release and is addressed to Turkish President Recep Erdoğan. This letter is signed by leadership of both parties.

We pray that the petition succeeds and the President takes diplomatic measures to free pastor Brunson.


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