WASHINGTON, D.C. — Along with Christians and other faith-based groups, the Save the Persecuted Christians (STPC) Coalition has expressed dismay at the continued imprisonment of North Carolina pastor Andrew Brunson, who has been detained since the fall of 2016 on accusations of spying or aiding terror groups.
At his hearing in Turkey yesterday, a court ruled that Brunson will be detained at least until his next hearing Oct. 12. Many have been working toward Brunson’s release, such as individual believers, groups like STPC Coalition, the Trump administration and the American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ). More than 584,000 signed an ACLJ petition on Brunson’s behalf.
“With the news of his continued imprisonment breaking today, Save The Persecuted Christians calls on President Trump, the administration and our legislators to step it up and do everything in their power to bring home American pastor Andrew Brunson jailed in Turkey as a political pawn on false charges of conspiracy,” said Dede Laugesen, member of the STPC Coalition.
Earlier this month, a Turkish newspaper reported that Brunson may be released at a hearing Thursday because of the national and international attention Brunson’s case had received, according to CBN News. But Brunson’s trial now continues, HotAir.com reported, urging the White House to mobilize further for his release.
Brunson was arrested by the Turkish government in October 2017 and faced up to 35 years in jail on charges of espionage and terrorism.
The Washington Post also reported: “Brunson’s supporters and independent analysts have called the accusations baseless and say he is being used as a bargaining chip by Turkey to win concessions from the United States.”
The STPC Coalition, which advocates on behalf of 215 million Christians facing heavy persecution worldwide, was also part of a protest organized last month in Washington, D.C. The Coalition continues to work diligently to disseminate actionable information about ways in which the American people can help those like Pastor Brunson who are being persecuted for their faith. Americans can lend support by encouraging their pastors and faith leaders to visit www.SaveThePersecutedChristians.org and order a free banner to display in front of their houses of worship.
These simple banners feature the Arabic “nun” character, which has become an international symbol for the oppression of Christians ever since the Islamic State used this first letter of the Arabic word for “Nazarene” to designate homes of followers of Christ targeted for persecution.
Raising awareness is an important first step, especially as Christian persecution occurs so routinely it rarely makes headlines. For example, according to Open Doors, 255 Christians are killed worldwide every month. 104 Christians are abducted. 180 Christian women are raped, sexually assaulted or forced into marriage. 160 Christians are detained or imprisoned without trial. And 66 churches are attacked. Every month.
The STPC Coalition is a building movement, similar to one in the 1970s that helped free another population suffering from heavy persecution—Soviet Jews—so as to impel policy changes that will hold the persecutors accountable and increase the costs for their crimes against humanity. Building such a movement is necessary to provide American policymakers the leverage needed to influence change worldwide and to alleviate the suffering of those—like Pastor Brunson—who are being persecuted merely because of their faith in Jesus Christ.