- The Washington Times - Friday, July 12, 2019

DENVER — Andrew Brunson, the U.S. pastor who spent two years in a Turkish prison, said Friday he was “astounded” by the escalating hostility toward Christians in the United States, saying they have become the “target” of activists.

“I’m really astounded at the speed at which the U.S. is imploding,” said Mr. Brunson at the Western Conservative Summit, held annually by the Centennial Institute at Colorado Christian University.

Mr. Brunson, who was released from Turkish custody in October 2018 in response to pressure from the Trump administration, said it was “no longer enough” for Christians to get along with others with whom they disagree.

“It seems like there’s much more of a demand that people of faith approve of, that they validate, that they celebrate things they actually disagree with,” he said.

Mr. Brunson, a pastor in the Evangelical Presbyterian Church, cited pressure from the media, celebrities and academia, saying “there’s an effort to marginalize and silence and shame Christians.”

“Activists are demanding that businesses and schools are demanding punish those who don’t agree with them,” he said. “I think it’s especially Christians who are in the cross-hairs of these things. They’re the target.”

The same pressure hasn’t been applied to believers of other faiths, he said.

“For example, you don’t get an LGBTQ activist going to a Muslim bakery in Dearborn, Michigan, demanding that this Muslim create a cake celebrating a wedding that he disagrees with, according to his belief in the Koran,” said Mr. Brunson. “I don’t think that Muslim should be pressured. I want them to have freedom of religion here, but the Christian is being pressured.”



His comment alluded to Colorado baker Jack Phillips, who has battled the Colorado Civil Rights Commission over his refusal to create customized cakes for same-sex weddings and gender-transition celebrations, citing his Christian faith.

Activists have accused Mr. Phillips and other Christian small-business owners who have declined to provide products and services for same-sex weddings of violating anti-discrimination laws.

American pastors have to decide whether to speak out, Mr. Brunson said, and either way, “there will be consequences.”

“If they do stand, there will be consequences, there will be opposition, but if they don’t stand, there will be much more serious consequences,” Mr. Brunson said.

The theme of the two-day summit held at the Colorado Convention Center was, “Defending Religious Freedom & America’s First Amendment.”

• Valerie Richardson can be reached at vrichardson@washingtontimes.com.

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