Is the Release of Andrew Brunson More Important Than U.S.’ Alliance With Turkey?

American evangelicals and human rights advocates are encouraging the United States to pressure Turkey to release American missionary Andrew Brunson, who faces ridiculous allegations of complicity in Kurdish terrorism.

Are they right to do so, even if the price is estrangement with a key NATO member and harm to US regional interests? How should Christians in their political witness balance Christian causes versus the wider national good?

The president, vice president and secretary of state have all denounced Turkey’s imprisonment of Brunson. Economic sanctions have been levied against Turkish products, and personal sanctions have targeted two Turkish officials. Congress has acted to prevent the sale of F-35 fighter jets to Turkey.

Evangelical support for Republicans reputedly explains US actions on Brunson, who belongs to a small evangelical denomination. But congressional votes were strongly bipartisan, with Senator Jeanne Shaheen, Democrat from New Hampshire who met with Brunson in Turkey, playing a leading role.

Brunson as a pastor and missionary justifiably generates evangelical advocacy. But he is of course a US citizen. Turkey has detained other US persons under dubious circumstances since the 2016 failed military coup. Erdogan’s despotism has accelerated as he’s exploited the coup to arrest tens of thousands. For Americans, Christian or otherwise, Brunson is an especially sympathetic arrestee as a non-political clergy and family man with a very small congregation and over two decades of devoted ministry in Turkey.

The multifaceted allegations against Brunson of complicity with terrorism, coup plotting, and collaboration with Erdogan’s favorite bête noir are sweepingly absurd. From his Pennsylvania exile, Sufi mystic Fethullah Gülen is the Turkish strongman’s nearly universal explanation for all opposition. Erdogan’s suggestion that Brunson could be exchanged for Gülen recalls another sinister proposal.

Backed by their new Islamist regime, Iranian hostage takers who occupied the US embassy in 1979 offered their captive American diplomats in exchange for the exiled shah. American law, honor, and decency forbade such a bargain, as they similarly would today.

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SOURCE: Christian Post, Mark D. Tooley