4 things under-reported in the evening news regarding Pastor Brunson, Turkey, and Trump


Pastor Andrew Brunson and his wife pray for President Trump

US pastor freed from Turkey prays with Trump in Oval Office

A 14 October 2018 Associated Press article shares how Pastor Andrew Brunson prayed with President Trump in the White House after the pastor was released from his 2-year unjust incarceration in Turkey.

Freed American pastor Andrew Brunson fell to one knee in the Oval Office and placed his hand on President Donald Trump’s shoulder in prayer before asking God to provide Trump “supernatural wisdom to accomplish all the plans you have for this country and for him.”

Trump welcomed Brunson to the White House on Saturday to celebrate Brunson’s release from nearly two years of confinement in Turkey, which had sparked a diplomatic row with a key ally and outcry from U.S. evangelical groups. Brunson returned to the U.S. aboard a military jet shortly before meeting the president. He was detained in October 2016, formally arrested that December and placed under house arrest on July 25 for health reasons.

“From a Turkish prison to the White House in 24 hours, that’s not bad,” Trump said.

Brunson’s homecoming amounts to a diplomatic — and possibly political — win for Trump and his evangelical base. Coming on the heels of the confirmation of a conservative justice to the Supreme Court, Brunson’s return is likely to leave evangelical Christians feeling good about the president and motivated get to the polls in the Nov. 6 midterm elections.

(Read more at the Associated Press)

Thank God that Pastor Brunson has returned to the USA. While the pastor was held in one of the most repressive Turkish prisons, there were questions as to whether he would ever come out alive. When he was moved to house arrest, there was question of how many years this might drag out. So, when he was released, the relief felt by many groups was great.

No matter what, we have to thank God for the release of Pastor Brunson, President Trump for his tireless efforts that worked toward the same end, and all of the people behind the scenes who helped it happen.

Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep. (Romans 12:15 NASB)


Trump's tariff plan

Trump’s tariffs against Turkey were instituted to help free Pastor Brunson

As shown by a 10 August 2018 CNBC article, the tariffs imposed by the Trump administration against Turkey were meant to cause enough pain for Turkish president that he might release Pastor Brunson.

President Donald Trump’s move Friday to double metals tariffs on Turkey is only his latest jab against the NATO ally that stems from disagreements over defense policy and the detention of American pastor Andrew Brunson.

Trump came into office seeking better relations with Turkey. But as Trump announced his plans to hike tariffs on Turkish steel and aluminum to 50 percent and 20 percent, respectively, he acknowledged that “our relations with Turkey are not good at this time!”

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In a tweet Friday, the president said he would levy tariffs as “their currency, the Turkish Lira, slides rapidly downward against our very strong Dollar!” The already-reeling currency plunged even more Friday, dropping 20 percent after Trump’s tweet.

The White House later tried to clarify Trump’s tweet, saying in a statement that he “authorized the preparation of documents to raise tariffs” on metals imports from Turkey.

(Read more at CNBC)

Admittedly, some of the “disagreements over defense policy” centered on allegations that Turkey profited from ISIS oil deals. Still, a large factor in the decision to step up the isolation of Turkey was the unwarranted detention of Pastor Brunson.

The mind of man plans his way, but the Lord directs his steps. (Proverbs 16:9 NASB)

Turkey's Lira collapses under Trump tariffs

Trump’s tariffs against Turkey had a major effect on the nation

As Politico pointed out in a 10 August 2018 article, Turkey suffered currency collapse and industry issues resulting from the tariffs imposed due to the unjust imprisonment of an American pastor, support supplied to ISIS, and warming relations with Russia.

President Donald Trump announced on Friday that he is doubling tariffs on Turkey after Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan asked citizens to convert foreign currencies, including U.S. dollars, into local lira — leading to a dramatic drop in the Turkish currency.

“I have just authorized a doubling of Tariffs on Steel and Aluminum with respect to Turkey as their currency, the Turkish Lira, slides rapidly downward against our very strong Dollar! Aluminum will now be 20% and Steel 50%. Our relations with Turkey are not good at this time!” Trump tweeted.

The lira is at an all-time low against the dollar, according to CNBC. The lira has been dropping for the past several days, which Erdoğan has said is a “campaign” against Turkey, according to the Associated Press.

White House deputy press secretary Lindsay Walters said in a statement that the new actions are Section 232 tariffs, which are “imposed on imports from particular countries whose exports threaten to impair national security.”

Trump’s announcement of steeper tariffs is his administration’s latest hit against Turkey.

The president on Aug. 1 issued sanctions against the longtime NATO ally after Turkey continued to detain American pastor Andrew Brunson. Trump warned Erdoğan in July to release the pastor or they would suffer sanctions.

Brunson was arrested in October 2016 by Turkey’s government on charges of aiding a terrorist organization and for espionage. The U.S. and Turkish officials met this week to discuss Brunson’s release, but a resolution was not reached.

(Read more at Politico)

Since Politico and Trump currently stand at polar opposite ends of the political spectrum, we can all assume that Politico published this to point out the suffering of Turkish people and not to help Trump. Nonetheless, since Trump secured the release of Pastor Brunson and President Erdoğan followed the release with hopes that “the United States and Turkey will continue their cooperation as the allies that they are, and fight together against terrorist groups,” we have to assume that not only has Trump’s goal of freeing a pastor (imprisoned during the Obama years) has succeeded, but also that Trump’s diplomacy efforts still advance.

Turkey's Christians find themselves under seige

Turkey has cracked down on Christians

The United Kingdom’s Express produced a 22 April 2016 article on Christian persecution in Turkey at about the same time that Pastor Brunson was first arrested. In that almost prescient 2016 article, the author notes how the government has run roughshod over Christians.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has taken control of six churches in the war-torn southeastern city of Diyarbakir in his latest move to squash freedom of speech and religious movement. 

The state-sanctioned seizure is just the latest in a number of worrying developments to come out of increasingly hardline Turkey, which is in advanced talks with the EU over visa-free travel for its 80 million citizens.

Included in the seizures are Catholic, Protestant and Orthodox churches, one of which is over 1,700 years old.

They have now effectively become state property – meaning they are run by the government – in a country with a dire human rights record where about 98 percent of the population is Muslim.

The order to seize the churches was made on March 25 by Erdogan’s council of ministers, according to the website World Watch Monitor.

They claim it was made on the grounds that authorities intend to rebuild and restore the historical centre of the city, which has been partially destroyed by 10 months of urban conflict between government forces and militants from the Kurdish Workers’ Party (PKK). 

(Read more at the Express)

Pastor Andrew Brunson imprisoned as Turkish President Erdoğan postures to re-establish the Ottoman glory


The ACLJ offers a petition

Along with a statement on the case, the American Center for Law and Justice has started a petition to the Turkish government.

“A Christian pastor in Turkey has been arrested. He is in great danger.

American Pastor Andrew Brunson – a U.S. citizen from North Carolina – has been falsely charged with ‘membership in an armed terrorist organization.’ The charging documents state no ‘evidence has[] been gathered’ against him. He has been a Christian pastor in Turkey for the past 23 years.

Pastor Andrew has been transferred from a detention facility to prison. During his 63-day detainment, he was denied access to his Turkish attorney.

Turkey – our NATO ally – has begun increased crackdowns on Christians. If convicted, Pastor Andrew could face years in prison based on extremely serious – and false – charges.

At the ACLJ, we’re representing the family, mobilizing our international resources – including our offices in the region – demanding Pastor Andrew’s freedom. Take action with us before it’s too late.”

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Presbyterian Pastor Andrew Brunson and his wife Norine.

Fox Station WGHP reports on efforts to free pastor from Turkish prison

A 5 February 2017 article by the Chapel Hill, North Carolina Fox affiliate mentioned the ongoing plight of Pastor Andrew Brunson.

“A North Carolina Presbyterian pastor has been held in a Turkish prison for almost four months now, according to WTVD.

Pastor Andrew Brunson is being accused of ‘membership in an armed terrorist organization.’ His family says he’s being persecuted for his Christian belief.

‘Honestly it’s been a nightmare that I did not think would still be going on,’ his daughter Jacqueline Brunson said. ‘I mean he’s an American citizen. It’s kind of outrageous to think that this is happening to an American citizen.’

Andrew Brunson and his family are from Black Mountain, in western N.C., and his daughter Jacqueline is a student at UNC Chapel Hill. The pastor has dedicated 23 years to Christian missionary work in Turkey — building churches and spreading the gospel — until he applied for residency and was arrested.

When asked if her father might be involved in any terroristic activity, Jacqueline Brunson said ‘not at all, definitely not.’

‘There’s nothing that they can look at that has any ties to membership and any terrorist organization. He’s the pastor of a church,’ said executive counsel Cece Heil.

Both North Carolina senators, Richard Burr and Thom Tillis, said they’re aware of the situation and working to get answers.”

(Read more at MyFox8)

The Washington Times points to the “abnormality” of this case

In a 16 January 2017 article titled Turkey’s wavering support for religious freedom, the Washington Times suggests that the case of Andrew Brunson is uncharacteristic of modern-day Turkey, but leaves us wondering at what nation the act of imprisoning dozens of Americans (some for the crime of having a dollar or the crime of escaping from al Qaeda) would find characteristic.

“Turkey faces real challenges and bears a huge burden. But fear of these threats shouldn’t drive their nation away from core values of justice, religious freedom and due process. In contradiction to all of those values, it appears Turkey wavered on its constitutional commitment with the imprisonment of American Pastor Andrew Brunson, who has been held in prison without clear cause since early October.

Mr. Brunson is a pastor of a small church on the west coast of Turkey. After living peacefully in Izmir for more than 20 years, he was imprisoned based on unsubstantiated allegations of ties to the Gulen movement, a group that many blame for the coup attempt in July. The local prosecutor has yet to produce compelling evidence against Pastor Brunson. I met with the Ministry of Justice in Ankara to discuss Pastor Brunson’s case, but the situation remains bleak.

Turkey is a nation that has generally welcomed freedom of conscience and liberty for different faith traditions. Monday was National Religious Freedom Day here in America. We are grateful to enjoy this value as a constitutional right for all people. But religious freedom is more than just an American right; it is a basic human right that should be embraced around the world.

According to the 21st Century Wilberforce Initiative, 5 billion people around the world face religious persecution, and one-third live in places where religious freedom is severely restricted. The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom’s 2016 report claims that numerous countries, including China, Burma, Iran, North Korea, Saudi Arabia and Sudan, among others, continue to imprison, torture and persecute religious minority communities, including Jews, Muslims, Christians, Sikhs and Buddhists.

Turkey should consider carefully how it handles the case of Pastor Brunson. America cares deeply about how our people are treated across the world, and we are watching closely. Aside from the personal struggle for Pastor Brunson and his family, America sees this as both a matter of religious freedom and safety for its citizens. If this is how Turkey treats an American like Andrew Brunson, other Americans will hesitate before taking their business to Turkey.

In 2015, the Senate passed a Trade Promotion Authority amendment that requires the executive branch to take religious freedom conditions into account whenever negotiating trade agreements with other nations. As it stands, because of recent imprisonments of over two-dozen Americans over the past seven months, I cannot support Turkey’s involvement in a future European trade deal. …

In light of references by President Erdoğan to returning Turkey to a pre-Ataturk glory, the assumption by the Washington Times that religious freedom is “generally welcomed” might be assuming too much.  If Erdoğan does succeed in ramrodding his agenda to erase the Ataturk era, Turkey will have no religion but Islam and there will be little room for dissent. Just ask the Armenians.

Armenian Christians are driven from their homes
Starving Armenian children are teased.
Armenians killed by raids of the Hamidiye corps of the Ottoman army.

Obama’s Continuous Attack on Truth: Handing the Internet Over From Bad to Worse


On 14 March 2014, Obama announced his plans to move the control of the Internet from the United States’ Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) to a yet-to-be-determined international group. Subsequently, various news organizations presented differing views on the change. A Washington Post article quotes the Newt Gingrich tweet “What is the global internet community that Obama wants to turn the internet over to? This risks foreign dictatorships defining the internet.” Additionally, the Post article pointed to ways the National Security Agency phone-spying scandal places pressure on the Obama administration to appease the 125 foreign dignitaries caught up in the spying. Conversely, a 17 March Washington Times article points out that the change has been scheduled since a 1998 Commerce Department agreement. Still, any words that bargain away the controlling agency of the Internet while not naming the recipient of the control or the date of the change seems to be just a good gesture.

The Alternatives to American Oversight

Since Obama never specified which recipients might receive the privilege of becoming overseers of the Internet during his blind scramble to obscure his scandals, is there really any reason for us to object to this move? Are there any valid reasons that we encourage him to not transferring this vital resource to some other entity? To prove that there are reasons for rejecting the move of Internet oversight from a setting where free speech standards are set (although sometimes seemingly ignored), consider these:

  1. United Nations – On 9 August 2012, Forbes documented the United Nation’s various reasons behind the several attempts to take over the Internet. If we were to hand the Internet over to these people, we could say goodbye to freedom of speech, religious freedom, and a good portion of online commerce.
  2. China – According to a 12 February 2014 article on the Council on Foreign Relations censorship of the Internet resources within China has increased dramatically over the past five years.
  3. Russia – Considering the way Russia took Crimea and then began pressuring Ukraine (as reported by an 1 April 2014 New York Times article), we can hardly expect Russia not to
  4. Turkey – As a supposedly “moderate” force in the Islamic world, a 9 January 2014 article revealed that the Turkish government has moved to impose strict controls on the Internet by monitoring the activities of online users and blocking certain keywords. Additionally, a 22 March 2014 article in the New York Times the digital ban imposed by the Turkish government. While it is likely that they would allow full text searches of the Quran, something tells me that research on any other religion would be disabled across the Internet if they were allowed to become overseers.
  5. Sudan – Although President Omar al-Bashir allows citizens from South Sudan to be taken as slaves by the north (and even exported to the Arabian Gulf), this 24 March 2014 article details how the Sudanese government seeks to block “negative” websites.
  6. Egypt – This 28 January 2011 article tells how Egyptian government managed to completely shut down the Internet within Egypt during the riots against Mubarak.
  7. Iran – A 9 May 2013 article details how Iran also shut down the Internet in response to calls for greater freedoms from its people.
  8. Sweden – In an effort to prove how tolerant they are, Sweden has opened their borders to Muslim immigrants and has suffered 1000 rapes during the first seven months of 2013. Despite this, debate over the problem is skewed by accusations common to the intolerant left.

Why Christians Might Oppose Moving Oversight

We must act to retain control of the Internet within the United States because our First Amendment provides protection to our religious rights and because we seek to remain true to the following verses from the Bible:

  1. We want to promote the gospel.

    Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” (Matthew 28: 19-20)

  2. We want to make the world a more truthful place.

    Therefore, rid yourselves of all malice and all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and slander of every kind. (1 Peter 2:1)

  3. We want to promote all kinds of truth.

    Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free. (John 8:32)

  4. We want to promote the general welfare of the world.

    When the righteous thrive, the people rejoice; when the wicked rule, the people groan. (Proverbs 29:2)

  5. We do not want to support something that is antithetical to both our beliefs and the general welfare of the world.

    Do not offer any part of yourself to sin as an instrument of wickedness, but rather offer yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life; and offer every part of yourself to him as an instrument of righteousness. (Romans 6:13)

    Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. (James 4:7)

    Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will. (Romans 12:2)

Action to Take

The most effective action that we might take is to sign the petition by the American Center for Law and Justice at http://aclj.org/free-speech-2/dont-let-dictators-control-internet-keep-web-free.