US Pastor Imprisoned, Accused of ‘Terrorism,’ in Turkey


An American pastor is imprisoned in Turkey since October 2016 on accusations that he aided terror groups or spied against Turkey.

Andrew Craig Brunson, a 50-year-old evangelical pastor from North Carolina, faces up to 35 years in prison on charges of “committing crimes on behalf of terror groups” and “espionage.”

Brunson, who denies any wrongdoing, was arrested in 2016 for alleged links to the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, the Kurdish socialist party that has fought for independence from Turkey.

“We have seen no credible evidence that Mr. Brunson is guilty of a crime and are convinced that he is innocent,” U.S. State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said in a statement.

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Brunson served as pastor of Izmir Resurrection Church, a small Protestant congregation in Izmir, the old Bible city of Smyrna, and has lived in Turkey for 23 years.

President Donald Trump has asked Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan for Brunson’s release, but his request has not been answered.

Turkey’s accusation against the evangelical minister is nonsense. Even though terrorists are common in Islam, they are not common in Christianity, especially among evangelicals.

Erdogan should see this obvious difference and immediately release Brunson.

It is a huge affront for Turkey to imprison an evangelical minister of the nation that lead NATO, because the presence of Turkey in NATO was a privilege exclusively — and undeservedly — granted by the United States. Turkey is radically Islamic and its values are contrary, religiously and historically, to the Christians values of Europe and the United States. There is no justification whatsoever for Turkey to be a NATO member and a U.S. ally.

Yet, it is not only Turkey’s attack on an innocent pastor that proves that Turkey does not deserve to be an ally of Christian nations.

Last month, Erdogan said Israel is “a terror state” and that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is “a terrorist” over Israel’s defensive efforts against Palestinian terrorists. Turkey has funded and armed Hamas against Israel and, with Saudi Arabia, it has funded and armed Islamic terrorist groups, including ISIS, against the Syrian government. This is real terrorism. How can Islamic Turkey hypocritically accuse Israel of terrorism?

One of the largest modern genocides of Christians was committed by Turkey. About 100 years ago in Turkey, an estimated 1.5 million Armenian Christians in 66 towns and 2,500 villages were massacred; 2,350 churches and monasteries were looted, and 1,500 schools and colleges were destroyed. Nevertheless, to appease Turkey’s wrath, Trump has avoided to say that the Armenian Genocide was a genocide. Israel, which every year rightly remembers the Holocaust, has also avoided to recognize the Armenian Genocide, even though evangelical Christians have worked very hard to press nations to recognize the Holocaust. Both America and Israel do not recognize the Armenian Genocide because Turkish Muslims hate to hear about their crimes against Christians.

For these obvious reasons, Turkey poses concerns to Christians, who also look at historical facts regarding Turkey’s violence against Christians and Jews.

Hagia Sophia, the oldest and largest Christian cathedral in the world, was conquered by Muslims in 1453 in Constantinople, the Christian name of the current Islamic city of Istanbul, Turkey. A Christian civilization was destroyed by Islamic invaders who transformed the conquered Christian land — the land of the seven churches of Revelation — in Turkey.

Not only a traditional Christian land was conquered, but the land of Israel too.

From 1517 until 1917, Turkey — which was then the Ottoman Empire — conquered and owned the Promised Land. This is, during four centuries the land of Israel was under Islamic control. So when the Bible talks about Gog and Magog coming from North and conquering Israel, this was Turkey, which is on the North of Israel, and owned Israel for centuries.

In fact, Jewish and Christian scholars pointed to Turkey as Gog and Magog, as shown by evangelical author Joel Richardson:

Hippolytus of Rome (170–235), an early Christian theologian, in his Chronicon, connected Magog with the Galatians in Asia Minor, or modern-day Turkey.

Moses Ben Maimonides (aka Rambam) (1135–1204), the revered Jewish sage, in Hichot Terumot, identified Magog as being on the border of Syria and modern-day Turkey.

Nicholas of Lyra (1270–1349), a Hebrew scholar and renowned biblical exegete, believed that Gog was another title of the Antichrist. Lyra also affirmed that the religion of the “Turks,” a term used to refer to Muslims in general, was the religion of the Antichrist.

Martin Luther (1483–1546), understood Gog to be a reference to the Turks, whom God had sent as a scourge to chastise Christians.

Sir Walter Raleigh (1554–1618), in his History of the World, also placed Magog in Asia Minor, or modern-day Turkey.

John Wesley (1703–1755), in his Explanatory Notes on Ezekiel 38 and 39, identified the hordes of Gog and Magog with “the Antichristian forces” who would come from the region of modern day Turkey.

Jonathan Edwards (1703–1758), one of American history’s most renowned theologians, also viewed modern-day Turkey as the nation from which the coming Gog Magog invasion would come forth.

Why has the United States enlisted Gog and Magog — which treats an evangelical minister and Israel as “terrorists” and which killed 1.5 million Armenian Christians — as a NATO member and its ally? To come from North and conquer Israel again? To come from North and conquer Christians and treat them as “terrorists” again? To kill Christians, as in the Armenian Genocide and in Syria through Islamic terrorist groups?

Turkey has a prophetic profile that not only fits Gog and Magog, but also as a major threat to Christians and Israel in these last days.

With information from the Associated Press, WorldNetDaily, Haaretz and the Jerusalem Post.

Portuguese version of this article: Pastor americano é preso, acusado de “terrorismo,” na Turquia

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Barb Wire.

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