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President Trump and Turkish President Recep Erdogan

Trump Speaks up for Pastor

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Yesterday, President Trump raised the issue of imprisoned U.S. pastor Andrew Brunson multiple times during his meeting with Turkish President Recep Erdogan in Washington. This is the type of significant attention that such religious freedom violations warrant, and we are glad President Trump raised the issue.

Pastor Brunson, who has lived in Turkey for 23 years and served as pastor of the Izmir Resurrection Church during that time, has been detained on vague “national security” charges since last October. Information about his case and the charges have been less than forthcoming from Turkey’s government, and advocates in the U.S. and elsewhere are concerned that he is being held as a pawn on baseless charges in a violation of his religious freedom. We look forward to his release.

Many similar violations of religious freedom occur elsewhere around the world on a frequent basis, yet most never hear of them because they lack an advocate in high places. This is why we in the West need to speak up for those persecuted for their faith around the world—something that was highlighted last week at the World Summit in Defense of Persecuted Christians, hosted by the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association last week in Washington, D.C. At this event, persecuted Christians from around the world gathered to show solidarity with one another and call attention to the suffering of their brothers and sisters in many places throughout the globe.

When we make our voices heard, leaders like President Trump listen. This is why we must continue to do so. In addition to pressing the case of Pastor Brunson, President Trump should appoint a strong advocate to the position of Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom, and again prioritize religious freedom in U.S. foreign policy.

 

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