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ICC Note: An article published by Christianity Today asks the question, will economic sanctions help release imprisoned American Pastor Andrew Brunson more than they hurt Turkish Christians? Although Turkey has a strong Christian history—it was the location of most of Paul’s ministry—Christianity has almost disappeared in Turkey. Decades of pressure from Islamic and secular sources has increasingly oppressed the Turkish church. Today, President Erdogan continues to make it clear that he is waging a war between cross and crescent.    

08/18/2018 Turkey (Christianity Today) –  Governments are supposed to take care of their citizens. For Andrew Brunson, an American detained in Turkey for almost two years, it may be his best hope.

Charged with threatening national security because of alleged ties to terrorist groups, the pastor for two decades of an evangelical church in Izmir (biblical Symrna) faces 35 years in prison.

“If Turkey does not take immediate action to free this innocent man of faith and send him home to America, the United States will impose significant sanctions on Turkey until pastor Andrew Brunson is free,” said Vice President Mike Pence last month at the US State Department’s first-ever Ministerial to Advance Religious Freedom.

The day before, Turkey had moved the pastor from prison to house arrest shortly after Brunson’s daughter recounted his plight before the ministerial’s global audience. But his return to his Izmir home wasn’t enough.

Less than a week later, on August 1 the US Treasury Department froze the assets of the Turkish ministers of interior and justice.

“Pastor Brunson’s unjust detention and continued prosecution by Turkish officials is simply unacceptable,” said Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin. “President Trump has made it abundantly clear that the United States expects Turkey to release him immediately.”

Turkey responded by sanctioning the corresponding American cabinet members.

Then dramatically on August 10, Trump announced the doubling of tariffs on Turkish aluminum and steel.

The Turkish lira—already falling since May when President Recep Erdoğan announced de facto control over monetary policy—immediately plummeted another 16 percent against the dollar, hitting record lows.

And while Turkey will now receive the support of Qatar (to the tune of $15 billion), the Trump administration threatened more sanctions during its cabinet meeting today after a Turkish court rejected Brunson’s appeal of his house arrest.

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