Last week, hundreds of leaders from around the world arrived in Washington. The administration of the trump gathered them together to discuss the cessation of religious persecution. During the summit, Vice-President Mike Pence spoke out in defense of American pastor imprisoned in Turkey
At the First summit of Ministers of foreign Affairs in the state Department pursued the believers in turn told about his life. However, the first persecuted Christian wasn’t able to share my story, because is still in prison in China.
“Many know that my husband John is a pastor, his life was simple, and his goal is to spread the Word of God,” shared Jamie Powell, wife of pastor John Cao.
Jamie Powell, wife of pastor John Cao says the Chinese authorities believe her husband’s a criminal. Last year, the Chinese border guards have arrested John for what his wife called “full of faith” activities to assist the poor. He is now serving a seven-year prison term.
“From the moment of detention health was greatly shaken. He lost 20 pounds. He was forbidden to communicate with me and the kids,” continued Jamie Powell.
“Prayer is only the beginning. But at such conferences, we see that open dialogue and public awareness about these problems is most important,” said Amos Tsao, the son of pastor John Cao.
“Religious freedom — it’s really for everyone. This right is given by God,” said Sam Brownback, U.S. Ambassador for international religious freedom.
The former Governor of Kansas Sam Brownback — U.S. Ambassador for international religious freedom. At the summit he urged the representatives of 80 countries to help make the world a place where people will genuinely care and love each other.
“The Alliance of authorities, civil society and faith will allow us to extend religious freedom,” says Sam Brownback.
Brownback recalled the ethnic cleansing of Muslims in Myanmar and the genocide of ISIS against Yezidis and Christians in Iraq. He also mentioned about the American pastor Andrew Branson, who is still serving time in Turkey on false charges. For the first ever summit of the Ministers Vice-President Mike Pence reiterated the demand to raise the level of religious freedom.
“I have an address to President Erdogan and the Turkish government on behalf of the President of the United States of America: release of pastor Andrew Brunson now or prepare for the consequences,” — said Vice-President Mike Pence.
These “consequences” President trump has stated in his recent tweet: “the United States will impose on Turkey substantial sanctions for the prolonged detention of pastor Andrew Brunson, a wonderful Christian, family man and just a wonderful person.”
Turkish authorities arrested Brunson in 2016 on charges of involvement in a failed coup. 50-year-old pastor faces up to 35 years in prison. On Wednesday, the court ordered the release Brunson from custody and placed under house arrest. The Vice President is convinced that this is not enough.
“Pastor Andrew Branson innocent. Against him is not credible evidence. I know that faith sustains him, but he’s not supposed to be there. Pastor Andrew Brunson deserves freedom,” says Mike Pence.
Pence told the leaders of 80 countries that the list of violators of religious freedom very long. It is led by China, Iraq and North Korea. And although President trump wants to improve relations with North Korea, the administration is not going to turn a blind eye on the issue of freedom of religion.
“The persecution of Christians in North Korea are unfounded and inexcusable. It is systematic and often fatal. Just found the Bible there is punishable by death,” said Pence.
At the Holocaust Museum, the U.S. permanent representative to the UN, Nikki Haley announced the US intention to protect freedom of religion: “We continue to strongly advocate for religious tolerance on the international arena — not only because many people are denied this right, but also because the protection of religious freedom makes the world safer and safer for all of us,” she said.
Pompeo Secretary of state assured that the summit of Ministers will become not a one-time and annual event during the period of administration trump.
MHN: Chris Mitchell middle East Bureau is headed by “CBN-News”. Living mostly in Jerusalem, but today he’s in our Studio in Virginia beach. The Secretary of state Pompeo this week made a statement, addressed to the Minister of foreign Affairs of Turkey. In it, he stressed that it is high time the innocent pastor Brunson to return home. Why Turkey still keep it?
There are several reasons, but first I would like to comment on the story. It is unprecedented that the President’s administration has advocated for religious freedom. At this level it never happened. This is an unprecedented case. In addition, the US administration advocates a Christian pastor in Turkey and addressing the issue at the level of the state and nation. Branson in prison, he is called a criminal. But actually he is a political hostage because President Erdogan wants instead of his political foe Gulen, who is accused of a coup attempt in 2016. He wants the United States issued it, and use Branson as a political pawn.
MHN: IN the last few weeks we have noticed anti-Israeli sentiments of the President Erdogan. He even compared Israel to Nazi Germany. What does it mean? In the case of some unresolved domestic issues?
I think it’s much deeper. His whole “Party of justice and development” really is gradually turning Turkey from a Western-style democracy into a totalitarian Islamist state. And, as we see, he recently was elected President with unprecedented powers. He turned his back to Israel because that gets more support from “Muslim brothers”. In fact, relations between Turkey and Israel deteriorated for many years, and we just witness another round in the decline of these relations.
MHN: whether Erdogan is Trying to become the voice of the whole Muslim community?
Yes, that’s it. He wants to be the new Caliph. Before the 1920’s, Turkey was the head of the Caliphate, but then it was abolished by the President Ataturk. Erdogan wants to restore the Ottoman Empire, which in former times had the whole Middle East and some in Europe. I think he wants to revive the Ottoman Empire and sees himself as the head, or Caliph, of this new Empire.