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Turkey Facts

Score: 66 / 100
Region: Middle East
Persecution Type: Islamic Oppression
Persecution Level: Very High
Population: 81,917,000
Christians: 194,000
Main Religion: Islam
Government: Parliamentary Republic
Leader: President Recep Tayyip Erdogan

Profile of Persecution

Violence 43%
Church Life 66%
National Life 79%
Community Life 64%
Family Life 66%
Private Life 74%

Increasing Dictatorial Power

Over the last year, the situation in Turkey has deteriorated significantly for Christians as President Erdogan’s powers grow. Since July 2016’s failed coup, Erdogan’s government has dropped its mask of supporting democracy and now openly restricts freedom throughout society. The general opinion is that a true Turk must be a Sunni Muslim.

By trying to transform Turkey from a secular state into a Sunni Muslim one, Erdogan performs indirect acts of Christian persecution, leaving little space for minorities. As a result, religious nationalism continues to reach new heights. And Christian churches there try to maintain a low profile, especially after the two-year case of U.S. Pastor Andrew Brunson who was unjustly jailed and released in October 2018.

How Christians are Suffering

The very strong religious nationalism that permeates Turkish society puts significant pressure on Christians. Because leaving Islam is considered betrayal of Turkish identity, Islam and family, converts from Islam to Christianity face social opposition. Although conversion from Islam to Christianity is not legally forbidden, Christians definitely feel the squeeze. And that squeeze is tightening.

Converts face increasing pressure from their families and communities to return to Islam. As a result, Christians sometimes lead a double life and hide their conversion. If discovered, they may be threatened with divorce and loss of inheritance. Christians also have no access to state jobs and often experience discrimination in private employment.

Examples

In October 2018, U.S. Pastor Andrew Brunson was released from arrest after almost two years of imprisonment and four hearings. He was charged with terrorism and espionage and in the indictment was accused of “Christianization,” deemed a “hostile act.”

The training of Christian leaders is legally impossible, and it is extremely difficult to register as a new church, although small congregations can register as “associations.”

Missionaries to Turkey are under increasing scrutiny. In October, a Canadian-American Christian evangelist was arrested and detained the morning after Brunson’s release. He was released and ordered to leave the country within 15 days after living and ministering 19 years in Turkey.

Pray for Turkey

  • Pray with persecuted believers, that they would put all their hope and trust in God.
  • Pray with Christians who have left Islam to follow Jesus. Ask God to give them discernment and words to minister graciously and wisely to their families and neighbors.
  • Pray for the safety of missionaries in Turkey and for both boldness and wisdom as they continue to minister there.
  • Pray for those who are labeled and treated as traitors after embracing the Christian faith.
  • Continue to pray with U.S. Pastor Brunson and his family as they resume their lives in America 25 years after leading a church in Turkey. Ask God to use their story to strengthen the global Church and embolden Turkish Christians.

Stories from Turkey

October 12, 2018

Breaking: Pastor Andrew Brunson Free!

Open Doors USA is relieved to hear of Pastor Andrew Brunson’s release from house arrest to freedom

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October 11, 2018

BREAKING: ‘Secret Deal’ Struck for U.S. Pastor Andrew Brunson

A "secret deal" may lead to the release of U.S. Pastor Andrew Brunson.

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July 25, 2018

Pastor Andrew Brunson Moved to House Arrest in Turkey

Pastor Andrew Brunson moves to house arrest as the trial continues in Turkey.

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