Religion News Service | 072618
WASHINGTON (RNS) — Vice President Mike Pence used a State Department summit of foreign ministers and religious leaders to call on Turkey to release U.S. pastor Andrew Brunson and threatened the country with sanctions if it did not.
“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 the vice president on Thursday (July 26), the day after the North Carolina clergyman was released from jail and placed under house arrest.
Turkey’s official Anadolu news agency said Brunson was allowed to leave jail after 1 1/2 years because of “health problems.” The 50-year-old has lived in Turkey for 23 years and has served as pastor of Izmir Resurrection Church.
Pence asked “believers across America” to pray for Brunson, who has been charged with “dividing and separating” the majority-Muslim country as he spread his Christian faith.
“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.”