Pastor Andrew Craig Brunson is not trial in Turkey for his religious activities or his missionary work. There are people like Brunson all across the country who are trying to convert the people of the country to Christianity and are not so successful. Yet they operate freely and no one bothers to harass them.
Pastor Brunson is facing serious charges for his involvement with the Fetullah Gülen gang, which launched an unsuccessful but bloody coup in Turkey on July 15, 2016 and the PKK terrorist group which is waging a secessionist war in our country.The charges brought against the pastor has nothing to do with his religious activities. He is charged with helping PKK terrorists flee the country, with helping the PKK to establish a state within Turkey's borders and cooperating with the Fetullah Gülen gang to convert Kurds to Christianity.
A criminal court in the Aegean port city of İzmir has released him from jail and has sent him to house arrest due to health reasons. His lawyer has appealed the house arrest decision of the court and has demanded his release and the lifting of travel restrictions. Can this be done when a person is facing such serious charges, remains to be seen.
Yet it seems some people in the U.S. are totally disregarding all these charges and are trying to cause a stir underlining the Christian mission of the pastor.
President Donald Trump has been Tweeting for the past several months calling Brunson a "great Christian and a family man" which seems to suggest the American head of state is trying to send messages to the evangelicals in the U.S. that he is fighting for their cause.
That looked strange until it became clear that President Trump was actually after the Christian votes in the congressional elections scheduled for this fall and was making Brunson his political tool.
When President Trump heard that Brunson was out of jail and sent home for house arrest he reacted negatively demanding the immediate release of the pastor and that he be sent home or else he would impose sanctions on Turkey… Some people would have regarded this as one of Trump's notorious tantrums but then when Vice President Mike Pence repeated these threats in front of a man of religion at an evangelical meeting then things started adding up.After all this U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo had two telephone conversations with Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu and there were high hopes that the issue would be settled. But it was not.
Pence was again on the offensive over the weekend declaring the U.S. would impose sanctions on Turkey and continue this line of action until Brunson was sent back to America.
This of course raises the question "can Turkish-American relations be sacrificed for some votes in the next American congressional elections?"
Let us hope the upcoming meeting between Pompeo and Çavuşoğlu in Singapore produces better results than before and common sense prevails.