Evangelical Christian leaders are backing the Trump administration’s threat of sanctions against Turkey and urging Christians not to travel to that country, saying it’s unsafe for all if it isn’t safe for U.S. Pastor Andrew Brunson, who was imprisoned for nearly 21 months on false charges of terror and espionage and is now under house arrest.
My Faith Votes — an organization that urged some of the 25 million evangelicals registered to vote to not sit out another election and get out and vote in 2016 — is “encouraging its friends and supporters to boycott travel to Turkey and Turkish Airlines until Pastor Andrew Brunson is freed,” the group says on its Facebook page.
“We hope pastors nationwide will join us in urging their congregations to boycott Turkey. Now is the time to stand in solidarity with this American citizen who has been unjustly treated by the Turkish government.”
“If Turkey isn’t safe for Brunson, it isn’t safe for us,” one of President Donald Trump’s informal evangelical advisers, Johnnie Moore, told NPR in a statement, days after Brunson was placed under house arrest and released from prison.
The Turkish government claims that Brunson is connected to the Islamic Gulen movement, which it accuses of being involved in a July 2016 coup attempt against the Erdoğan administration. Brunson is also accused of being involved with the Kurdistan Workers Party.
Brunson, a North Carolina native who has led a small congregation in Izmir for the past two decades, has denied all the charges. Rights advocates believe that Brunson was arrested in an attempt to force the U.S. government to extradite Islamic cleric Fethullah Gulen, who resides in Pennsylvania.
On Thursday, Vice President Mike Pence said, “If Turkey does not take immediate action to free this innocent man of faith and send him home to America, the United States will impose significant sanctions on Turkey until Pastor Andrew Brunson is free.”
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SOURCE: Christian Post, Anugrah Kumar