WASHINGTON — Andrew Brunson, an American missionary to Turkey who had spent two years in prison after being falsely accused of using “Christianization” to overthrow the government, testified before the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom on Thursday. He explained his belief that his case was used to cause the general population to think negatively and suspiciously of Christians.
“My experience in Turkey illustrates and, in some ways, epitomizes how the Turkish government views Christians,” Brunson said. “The Erdogan regime has stoked an already deep-seated suspicion and animus toward Christians. And one of the ways they did it was through my case.”
He explained how Turkey has increased its deportation of Christian missionaries.
“The most pressing hardship the Turkish church has faced in the last couple of years is the expulsion of foreigners closely involved with the Turkish Church,” he explained, noting that the government does not allow local Christians to establish training centers for church leaders, so those from other countries have sought to be of help.
“Over 50 Protestant families have had to leave the country in recent years, including several friends of mine,” Brunson outlined, citing the examples of David Byle, Patrick Jensen and Ryan Keating. “So, I want to emphasize that those being targeted for deportation are for the most part church leaders and pastors. They’re not dentists and engineers. So, this is a faith issue.”
“Many churches have been negatively affected, and in Izmir where I served, five churches have lost their
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