Tuesday, June 28, 2005

'We do not Target Any Religion or Sect in Our Sermons'

"Turkish Religious Affairs Directorate President Professor Ali Bardakoglu assures that sermons do not include any expressions darkening other religions or making discreditory remarks."

"The US Ambassador to Ankara Eric Edelman had sent a letter to State Minister Mehmet Aydin that reads that the sermons (khutbas) given in mosques include worrisome expressions for Christians. Bardakoglu spoke in relation to the khutba which referred that Islam is the religion that was read on March 11 and that had saddened Edelman; however, The President said, it was based on a verse in Quran. "As the Pope has the right to say that the salvation of all humanity is only through Christianity, Muslims also have the right to say that it is the only accepted religion by stating that Allah is Islam." No one can prevent this no matter what religion they belong to.

"Our khutbas are prepared by the Religious Affairs High Commission, which works on Religious Affairs. We do not take into account any of external demands or expectations. We consider the situation in our country, national and social unity, the principles of the Republic, secularism, democracy and problems that we can help people to solve while we prepare our khutbas."


Turkey, Day One

A fun look at the country we know and love from a visiting basketball columnist's first trip here.

"Twenty-six hours, 5,365 miles; one never-ending plane ride from JFK to Istanbul; one small mishap in the largest mosque in Turkey; one ferry across the Sea of Marmara; and a harrowing drive through the winding streets of Turkey that could've passed for a Disney thrill ride. Two hours too late."

"I'm not sure I should know this firsthand. When we arrived at the mosque, there was a sign stating clearly in seven languages that foreigners weren't allowed inside at the time. Ercevik was undeterred. He haggled with a guard armed with an AK-47 for a while, then I was invited in."

"I've complained about the driving in Serbia, Israel and Italy, but nothing tops what I saw in Turkey. Most of the roads are barely wide enough for two cars going in opposite directions. Turkish drivers turn a marginal two-lane road into a four-lane road. Medians are ignored; sidewalks are passing lanes. I've yet to see a car in Istanbul without a major dent or damage. It's like being in a full-time demolition derby."

"The gym is hot and smells of a Speed Stick-deprived society. It's decorated with red and white balloons all bearing the familiar symbol of Turkish power – the crescent and the star.

The place is full, the crowd deafening. The chanting borders on ritual, as fans on both sides of the fence taunt and challenge each other."
ESPN.com - NBA - Ford: Turkey, Day One

Monday, June 27, 2005

Every Kind Of Religious Discrimination Should Be Opposed

"Turkish State Minister Mehmet Aydin said that every kind of religious discrimination should be opposed."

"Delivering a speech on ''Religion and Secularism'' at NATO Parliamentary Assembly meeting in Naples, Italy, Aydin noted, ''as we oppose anti-Semitism, we should oppose Islamophobia.''

Indicating that people who had different religions and cultures should know each other well, Aydin stressed, ''dialogue is very important. We should know each other well.''

Replying to a question on political Islam in Turkey, Aydin underlined, ''political Islam has never been admired by large population in Turkey.''
Aydin: Every Kind Of Religious Discrimination Should Be Opposed

Freedom of religion

"The Supreme Board of Radio and Television (RTÜK) determined that a radio station was broadcasting Christian propaganda and that this type of programming was against the national interest and the value systems of the Turkish people. It therefore opened a court case against the station. At court it was decided that such broadcasting should NOT be considered 'illegal' as the spread of religious messages was part of religious freedom.

These types of developments open new corridors of thought in the Turkish mindset. I am no exception and I'd like to share my thoughts with you very sincerely."

This lady goes on to describe her experience meeting some Bahai missionaries in Malta who lied to her about their reason for being there and then when she found out the real reason, tried to convert her. At that point she writes of her conversation with her 'friend', Pat:

"Do you know what you are suggesting?"

"No. What?"

"You are suggesting to me something like this: 'Ayşe. Ali, Canan and Ahmet are not your children. They may seem to be so far but they are not. Now give them up. I will give you new and better children.' That is what I am hearing, Pat. Can you understand what I am saying? What are you trying to do?"

At this point Pat got up from the couch, proceeded to the door, walked out and we never talked to each other again. They continued their friendship with my English friend for a few more weeks. But when they approached her with their 'message' and how wonderful it would be if my friend donated her gold shares to them, my friend stopped seeing them as well.

Yes. Freedom of religion. Sure. But I sincerely felt assaulted and I am not afraid to share this story with you so that you may understand how some people react to such efforts."

This article demonstrates the importance in being honest with people, approaching them in the spirit of truth, as bearers of the real Truth. Of course, these people in the story were teaching a false religion and it seems after money, but we can make a positive or negative impact by what we share as well.
Turkish Daily News - Freedom of religion

Sunday, June 26, 2005

Ankara's Batikent Protestant Church wins water case

"A court decision denying free water access for Ankara's Batikent Protestant Church, despite the fact that mosques, mescits, and Koran courses in the municipality all receive free water, was overturned by Turkey's Council of State.

In overturning the decision by Ankara's 7th Administrative Court to deny the Batikent Protestant Church free water, the Council of State noted that such denial was "anathema to equality," and that "differentiation according to religion" was unfair."

"Batikent Protestant Church's Pastor Daniel Wickwire, of the US, said regarding the Council of State's intervention in his church: "This is a very generous decision; it should be an example to other churches."

Wickwire thanked the Turkish justice system for its help, saying "This is what secularism means. I would like to thank the Turkish justice system, and would like to note that we always trusted in it. These sorts of decisions also ring up big points for a Turkey preparing to enter the EU. They are good advertisement for Turkey." Wickwire talked about the role of the Batikent Protestant Church in Ankara, a church which stands side by side next to a mosque: "We are not an enemy, but a friend. We have no political goals, and we are not competing for anyone." Wickwire repeated that his desire was very simply that whatever rights were extended to mosques be extended to churches in Turkey.

Pastor Wickwire noted this was the second case he had been involved in, and that in the past, he had come head to head against the Ministry of the Interior and the Yenimahalle Municipality. Recalling that both the ministry and the municipality had tried to have the church displaced, Wickwire said that the victory in that case was the "first time a protestant church had won" in Turkey. Wickwire himself received his doctorate degree from Ankara University's Department of Religious Studies, and has been residing in Turkey for 20 years. He noted that the local municipality had not yet begun to implement the decision brought down by the Council of State in the water case, but that he hoped that they would begin shortly."
Turks.US Daily News - Ankara's Batikent Protestant Church wins water case Daily News

Aya Sofia Mosque Stays a Museum: Turkish Court

"The Ankara Administrative Court rejected Friday, June 24, a lawsuit to cancel a decision banning prayers in the historical mosque of Aya Sofia and turning the worship place into a museum.

A lawsuit was filed by the Turkish committee for the preservation of ancient monuments demanding an abolition of a decision taken by the founder of the Turkish republic, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, in 1924 to turn the Aya Sofia mosque into a museum.

But the court rejected the suit, stressing that rules of administrative laws don’t stand a jurisdiction with such cases.

Once the Turkish committee for preservation of ancient monuments appealed the ruling, the lawsuit would be looked into again by the Ankara council of administrative courts, according to the Turkish CNN network.

Over the past years, protests have been organized by many Turkish NGOs and civil society groups to demand a re-opening of the mosque for prayers.

Sit-ins have also been held in front of the mosque from time to time to demand the re-opening of the mosque for worshipers."

Islam Online- News Section

Saturday, June 25, 2005

EU Requests Turkey Prove Religious Freedom before Entry

"Since last December, when the European Union (EU) decided to begin accession talks with Turkey, religious freedom has been one of the urgent issues that Turkey must solve before entering the EU. The basics of religious freedom must be implemented into the national laws and be evidently practiced in real life also.

However, media and government fanned intolerance is spreading throughout the country, especially over the past six months. State officials regard Christian activities as dangerous; Islamist and nationalist groups are attacking Christian communities, verbally abusing them, and in extreme cases - physically beating them as well.

Chairman of the Alliance of Protestant Churches (APC) Ihsan Ozbek said to Compass Direct: "In January there were small incidents of attacks and beatings of Protestants."

He sees the main reason in politics, since these groups regards the EU as the enemy and believe that Turkey will loose its religion and identity after entering the "Christian club."

As Turkish press announced in February, a sermon prepared by the Religious Affairs Directorate was read in all mosques on 11th March. In the speech the Christian missionaries were described as new Crusaders. This came "as a reaction to missionary activities in Turkey and EU demands for religious expression."

On 11th June 2005 Cumhuriyet newspaper published an article revealing the intelligence agencies reports within Turkey concluding that Christian missionary activities had, apart from preaching the gospel, also a second motive - specifically, promoting ethnic divisions amongst the Kurds, Compass Direct reported yesterday.

According to the report, the majority of foreign missionaries come from South Korea, the United States, England, New Zealand, Australia, Germany, Sweden and Romania and they were said to represent Catholic, Protestant and Orthodox groups of Christians.

The report with entitled: 'Reactionary Elements and Risks' states that the Turkish and foreign citizens were co-working to form non-governmental organisations (NGOs) where the church members form the "important portion" of the NGOs staff.

Istanbul was identified as Turkey's missionary headquarters, although places of worship were known to be established in Ankara, Izmir, Eskisehir, Antalya, Hatay, Mersin and Kusadasi.

Earlier this year, State Minister Mehmet Aydin accused missionaries of destroying the identity of Turkish people: "The goal of missionary activity is to break up the historical, religious, national and cultural unity of the people of Turkey."

However, in addition, opposite voices can also be heard. Cumhuriyet columnist Oral Calislar noted that it was hard to see how the Christian missionaries' activities may be considered as a political threat in a country where the non-Muslim population is less than two out of every thousand.

"Think of Germany," Calislar wrote on 9th January. "Almost three million Muslims from Turkey have settled there, setting up hundreds of mosques and propagating their faith. Most of their imams are sent and paid by the Turkish state."

So in Turkey, Calislar declared, "Just as Muslims consider it a right to propagate their faith, so Christians, Jews and atheists have the same right."

On 1st June the new reformed legislation came into force. According to the new laws, it is legal to express and promote one's religious beliefs and meet for worship accordingly.

As articles 115 and 215 of new penal code states, it is outlawed to "prevent or obstruct anyone from expressing or changing their religious, political, social or philosophical views or from meeting for religious worship."
Christian Today > EU Requests Turkey Prove Religious Freedom before Entry

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

The Power of Prayer

It was about midnight when I received a message on my mobile phone. “Call me. It’s an emergency.” The message came from “Don” and “Isaac,” two newly baptized believers. I called Don back. He said, “There’s a friend of ours here who’s been possessed by a demon. Please pray.” I hung up and immediately began praying for his deliverance. An hour later I asked how the young man was doing. The answer: “He’s doing well. Praise God!”

“Sean” and I went to visit the young boy (we’ll call him Albert). We learned that for 2 weeks Albert had been acting strange and wild. He was taken to the doctor and was given tranquilizers with no success. Don and Isaac told the family that only Jesus could heal him. That night Don was healed almost immediately. The following day almost everyone had heard of the “miracle” and noticed the great change in Albert.

Undoubtedly, because of God’s hand in this situation some have begun to consider the God of Don and Isaac. Today I received another message from Don. “Three of our friends have received the good news. However, they are fearful of persecution. Please pray for them.”

Please pray for these three men that Don and Isaac have introduced to Christ, that they may trust and believe in Him with boldness and joy. Pray also for Don and Isaac that they would continue to be light in this place of darkness. Pray also for Albert since he has not yet received Christ as his Lord and Savior. I am afraid that his final condition would be worse than his first (Luke 11:24-26).


"Turkey’s 70 million people are overwhelmingly Muslim, but in the drive to obtain membership in the European Union (EU), the Turkish government has included cosmetic legal reforms concerning the opening of new churches and other non-Muslim places of worship. Currently a total of 55 Protestant churches are publicly identified as places of worship in the major cities of Turkey. However, none of these facilities have been able to acquire formal, legal status as church buildings. Obstacles preventing Turkish Christians from worshipping in buildings they may have rented or purchased include zoning regulations, the size of the church property, and a requirement that public meetings such as church services must have written permission from the other owners of the building. “The issue of the legalization of Protestant churches is under constant and close scrutiny,” a source from a European embassy in Ankara confirmed last week. “It will continue to be one of the topics on the agenda of the EU.”
Compass Direct

Wednesday, June 08, 2005


"Congresswoman Nita Lowey (D-Westchester/Rockland) Thursday pushed the Speaker of the Turkish Parliament to return property that had been confiscated from the Orthodox Church and allow the reopening of the Theological School at Halki. Lowey pressed for these actions during a congressional delegation trip to Turkey and the Middle East."

"In recent years, the Turkish government has confiscated 75 percent of the 1,747 properties belonging to the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople in Istanbul, Turkey, including an orphanage the Church has held since 1902. The government has also limited to Turkish nationals the candidates available to the Holy Synod for selection as the Ecumenical Patriarch, and has indefinitely closed the Theological School at Halki, preventing the training of Orthodox Christian clergy in Turkey."
Hellenic News of America

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

IN SEARCH OF NOAH'S ARK: A chronological timeline of expeditions & sightings - (BP)

"The search for Noah's Ark is by no means a new enterprise. Ron Stewart, author of "Noah's Ark: A Scientific Look, Past And Future," has documented more than 100 expeditions and Ark sightings, dating back as far as 2500 BC."

IN SEARCH OF NOAH'S ARK: A chronological timeline of expeditions & sightings - (BP)

Even Presidents are Temporary

The law and the interpretation of the law are often two very different things in Turkey. Many Christians pursue laws that will protect their rights as individuals and as churches, but perhaps even more important is the interpretation of new and existing laws. Pray that the Turkish Christians would be able to submit to the authorities places over them and that those authorities would be just.

"The President noted as a justification that the punishment for these kinds of educational institutions is there to prevent terrorist organizations, missionaries and religious sects from influencing believers. Contrary to the justification, this article of the law has never been applied against either missionaries or terrorist groups. The upcoming days will determine how wide the scope of the law will be; however, all of the "Private lessons from Bogazici University Student" fliers that we see on bus stops everyday will be is the scope of this law. Meanwhile, the teachers who tutor in their houses in order to earn a little bit more money will also be accused of this. If it goes on so, grandparents teaching their grandchildren how to read the Quran will be sentenced."

ZAMAN DAILY NEWSPAPER (2005060420323): "mis"

Saturday, June 04, 2005

Protestant Churches Union: Perincek Supported us

When they really want to smear someone over here, they just say that they worked with protestant missionaries:

"Press Secretary of the Protestant Churches Union Isa Karatas has asserted that Turkish Workers' Party (IP) leader Dogu Perincek supported missionary activities "in a sincere way" especially during the1980s and 90s."

"Indicating that a series of articles about the activities of Protestant missioners and free Bible advertisements were found among the pages of Perincek's periodicals, Karatas revealed that relations went on happily till 1995. The IP leader, on the other hand, refuted the claims, "I have always opposed this."

Karatas emphasizes that Perincek's expressions against the mission contradicted with his past. Stressing that he spoke with Perincek many times in a warm atmosphere, "I have spoken to Perincek many times especially during the Ikibine Dogru [Towards 2000] period. When I went to magazine's building to submit articles, I was able to speak with Perincek without making a prior appointment. He used to behave quite sincerely. I do not think he was insincere in his emotions at that time."

Thursday, June 02, 2005

Baykal: I can pray and defend Ataturk at the same time

The decision on this could have ramifications for all religious groups meeting to study:

"The war of words between Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and opposition party leader Deniz Baykal continues. Baykal and other Republican People's (CHP) Party members were swift to condemn changes made last week to the new Turkish Penal Code (TCK) which will lessen the punishment for those involved in running and teaching in unauthorized Koran courses."

"There are places clearly appointed for religious education in Turkey. Religious faculties, high schools, and special Koran courses sponsored by the Ministry of Religion are opened to anyone who wants. We are just against the brain washing of our little children in darkened basements." Baykal went on "Turkey was a Muslim country before Erdogan was born. And it will continue loving and respecting Ataturk, the state, and the Constitution."
Turks.US Daily News - Baykal: I can pray and defend Ataturk at the same time Daily News