RALEIGH | July 3, 2018 | TruthPR.com | – It happened without much attention, but signatories are hoping its effect will contribute to ending a serious problem between the United States and Turkey. Thursday, Forty-eight out of fifty members of the North Carolina Senate signed onto a Senatorial Statement urging the Turkish government to release Pastor Andrew Brunson. Brunson, a Presbyterian minister from Black Mountain, North Carolina, has been unjustly imprisoned in that country since October 7, 2016.

Pastor Brunson, a missionary who serves as a pastor to a small Christian church in Izmir, Turkey, was wrongly arrested and associated with a group that Turkish authorities say was responsible for a coup attempt against President Tayyip Erdogan.

Brunson denies the charges against him, saying at trial, “I’ve never done anything against Turkey. I love Turkey. I’ve been praying for Turkey for 25 years. I want the truth to come out.”

The accusations against Pastor Brunson are solely basedon three secret witness accounts. The U.S. Department of State says there is “no credible evidence” to justly convict Brunson of any crime. The United States Commission on International Religious Freedom “strongly condemns” the charges. He faces 35 years in prison if convicted.

North Carolina’s U.S. Senator, Thom Tillis, has been to Turkey twice to visit with Brunson, to urge authorities to free him, and attend his trial. Tillis keeps the matter before the United States Senate regularly.

Unfortunately, Brunson is a victim of hostage diplomacy. In exchange for Brunson, Turkey wants the United States to extradite a Muslim cleric that it alleges played a role in the coup attempt.

Rev. Mark Creech, executive director of the Christian Action League, spearheaded the effort to get the state House to pass a resolution and the state Senate to provide a Senatorial statement. He feverishly lobbied lawmakers to support the initiatives before the end of the General Assembly’s Short Session.

Creech says the case against Brunson is fundamentally about religious liberty in the world. “The accusation against him claims he is ‘dividing and separating [Turkey], by means ofChristianization,’ and that his ministry is considered ‘an agent of unconventional warfare’ beneath the ‘mask of an evangelical church pastor.’ This is no different than when the Emperor Nero claimed the Christians burned Rome,” said Creech.

Creech said he was thankful to members of both the North Carolina House and Senate for their support.

The North Carolina House unanimously approved a Resolution on June 12th asking that Brunson “be released from prison immediately.” The Senatorial Statement is similar in its content to the House Resolution.

Current Senate Rules do not allow for Resolutions, but only Senatorial Statements.

“It’s impossible to know how much good a House Resolution and a Senatorial Statement will do -if it will have any effect at all on securing Brunson’s release,” said Creech. “But we have to try. These are official declarations from North Carolina state governing bodies insisting an innocent North Carolinian be released. State government would have been wrong to have ignored this issue affecting one of its own citizens. Who knows in what way God may use these to set our Christian brother free.”

Creech also said he hoped that if Brunson’s release is not resolvedthat North Carolina will consider stronger words and take action.

“I think absent Brunson’s release, state lawmakers ought to urge the state Treasurer to review our state government’s economic interests and investments in Turkey and make such recommendations as may be appropriate to the circumstances,” he said.

For additional information on the House Resolution,click here

For additional information on the Senatorial Statement,click here

To view the House Resolution,click here 

The Senatorial Statement is spread upon the journal of the Senate and has not been publishedat this time. There is no official link. However, the Christian Action League has created a link to view the way the Senatorial Statement reads. You can access it here.