The Order of Saint Andrew the Apostle, Archons of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, applauds this statement from the President. It is needed not only in light of the persecution of Pastor Brunson, but of the fact that the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) has recently released its 2018 Annual Report, which documents violations of religious freedom around the world, and makes recommendations to the U.S. government on how this fundamental freedom can be more effectively protected worldwide. Once again, the USCIRF has included Turkey among its Tier 2 violators — that is, countries where religious freedom violations are systematic, ongoing, and/or egregious.
The Order recalls the statement of Senator James Lankford (R-OK), who spoke at the Third Archon International Religious Freedom Conference last December: “It is unconscionable that Turkey, a NATO ally, has unjustly held an American pastor in prison since October 2016…. If Turkey does not release Dr. Andrew Brunson, Congress stands ready to take necessary and appropriate action.”
The Order hopes that sanctions and other such action will be rendered unnecessary by the government of Turkey’s immediate release of Pastor Brunson, but is grateful for the President’s attention to this all-important issue and Senator Lankford’s determination to bring the plight of Pastor Brunson to the United States Congress. We hope that both President Trump and Congress will act as is necessary in this case, and that Turkey will act swiftly to reaffirm religious freedom and respect for the human rights of Pastor Brunson and all the Christians in that land, and move swiftly to redress the unjust situation of the Ecumenical Patriarchate.
“President Trump threatens to hit Turkey with sanctions if it doesn’t release Christian pastor,” by Mike Ciandella, The Blaze, July 26, 2018:
President Donald Trump tweeted on Thursday that the United States would “impose large sanctions” against Turkey for its imprisonment of Christian pastor Andrew Brunson. Vice President Mike Pence made a similar announcement at a religious freedom event earlier in the day….
Trump tweeted that Turkey would face “large” sanctions for its treatment of Brunson, whom he described as “a great Christian, family man and wonderful human being.”
The United States will impose large sanctions on Turkey for their long time detainment of Pastor Andrew Brunson, a great Christian, family man and wonderful human being. He is suffering greatly. This innocent man of faith should be released immediately!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 26, 2018
At a State Department-hosted religious freedom event, Pence declared:
To President Erdogan and the Turkish government, I have a message on behalf of the president of the United States of America: release Pastor Andrew Brunson now or be prepared to face the consequences.