Thursday, April 29, 2010

Turkey remains on religious freedom "Watch List"

"Serious limitations on the freedom of religion or belief continue to occur in Turkey. Turkey's active civil society, media, and political parties influence the climate for religious freedom and help define the debate about the appropriate role of religion in society. Turkey has a democratic government, and the country's constitution calls for the protection of the freedom of belief and worship and the private dissemination of religious ideas. Nonetheless, the Turkish government's attempt to control religion and its effort to exclude religion from the public sphere based on its interpretation of secularism result in serious religious freedom violations for many of the country's citizens, including members of majority and, especially, minority religious communities. The European Union (EU) continues to find that, despite some improvements since its 2001 bid to join the EU, "Turkey needs to make additional efforts to create an environment conducive to full respect for freedom of religion in practice." An additional factor influencing the climate during the past year includes the alleged involvement of state and military officials in the Ergenekon plot, which included alleged plans to assassinate the Greek Orthodox and Armenian Orthodox patriarchs and to bomb mosques."

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

'Noah's Ark' found atop Mount Ararat in Turkey, evangelical group claims

'Noah's Ark' found atop Mount Ararat in Turkey, evangelical group claims
Noah shepherded them through the flood, two by two, and ended up in Turkey.

That's what a group of Chinese and Turkish evangelical explorers is claiming, after having found what it says are pieces of the religious icon's famed boat on Mount Ararat.

"It's not 100% that it is Noah's Ark, but we think it is 99.9% that this is it," Yeung Wing-cheung, a Hong Kong documentary filmmaker, told AFP.

Wing-Cheung, a member of the 15-member team from Noah's Ark Ministries International, said the structure in which they got the wood had several compartments that were possibly used to store animals.

According to the Bible, Noah was tasked by God to build a giant ark after deciding to flood the world because humanity had become too corrupt.

Mount Ararat has long been believed to have been the final resting place of the ark, which according to be Bible, came to rest upon the top of a mountain.

Carbon dating shows that the wood the group recovered was 4,800 years old, which would put it around the time of the ark, the team claimed.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010


EurasiaNet Eurasia Insight - Turkey: Thousands Make Pilgrimage to Christian Site on St. George's Day
Turkey is a secular Islamic country. But the Christian feast day of St. George is observed by thousands of Turkish women in a way that is completely unexpected.

Starting in the early morning on April 23, St. George’s Day, the dock area of the Kabatas section of Istanbul is packed for the 6:50 am ferry running to the island of Büyükada, lying about 30 kilometers from Istanbul. The island is home to the 12th century Greek monastery of St. George, which sits perched hundreds of meters above sea level on top of one of the islands hills.

No one can provide a clear explanation of how the tradition began. What is known is that thousands now make the pilgrimage every year to offer up prayers for health and material success.

Those who made the pilgrimage this St. George’s day were a mix of Turkish women, dressed in a wide array of secular and Islamic attire. On the island, a mixture of good luck charms, multi-coloured candles and cotton threads stretched from the bottom of the hill to the top; the colours signified the nature of the requests regarding, jobs, marriage or children; green for peace and money, red for love, and so on. It took pilgrims about 45 minutes to make the 1.5-kilometer uphill trek to the monastery.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Today is a Day of Prayer set aside for Turkey, Don't Forget to Pray!

To Church Leaders and Christians Worldwide,

From the body of Christ in Turkey, to our brothers and sisters in Christ around the world, grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

Greetings from the church in Turkey – from the land of Noah, of Abraham, of Paul, of Ararat and Harran, of Antioch, Ephesus, Galatia, of the Seven Churches of Revelation……… Yet today, the body of Christians in our land is less than 0.1% of the population of 72 million.

We are writing to you on behalf of the leaders of the church in Turkey to ask for your churches. We greatly desire that you would join the small congregations of Turkey along with many churches worldwide to give 2-3 minutes to prayer for Turkey in your churches on Sunday April 18, 2010.

In 2009 we asked the world to join us each year for a 'Global Day of Prayer for Turkey' on April 18, the day in 2007 when 3 of our brothers were tortured and brutally murdered in the town of Malatya.

New video reveals Islamic activists carried notes: 'They were attacking our religion'

Fear of 'missionaries' blamed for martyrdom of 3 Christians
A new video about the martyrdom of three Christian workers at the hands of Islamic activists in Turkey reveals that while the government's case against the alleged killers continues in turmoil and confusion, the Christian community in the Muslim nation views the tragedy as the will of God.

"Malayta," available now as the April 18 third anniversary of the deaths approaches, is from Austin Stone Community Church, Voice of the Martyrs and Family Christian Movies. It tells the story of the martyrdom of Necati Aydin, Tilman Geske and Ugur Yuksel. The three, who were working at a Christian publishing house, had agreed to meet with several young Muslim men who expressed interest in the Bible.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Three-year trial for murders of Christians finally ending

Mission Network News
The Turkish church has called on people everywhere to join with them in prayer.

"One of the things that has emerged from this is a global day of prayer for Turkey, which was started a year ago to commemorate the deaths of these young men. But it has been broadened to call attention to the fact that God is at work in Turkey through His church."

Rodeheaver says Turkey is a launching pad for the spread of the Gospel. Its geographical location makes it an intersection for several countries hostile to the message of Christ. It has naturally become a peaceful harbor and meeting place for Christians due to its republic form of government. Turkey has become extremely important to the mission field in the Middle East in general.

Turkish judges to decide whether to join ‘Cage’ with Malatya killings

Turkish judges to decide whether to join ‘Cage’ with Malatya killings - Hurriyet Daily News and Economic Review
Judges hearing a case about the murders of three Christians in Malatya in 2007 announced Thursday a decision to consider whether to merge the trial’s file with the “Cage Action Plan” case, which is scheduled to open on June 15.

The “Kafes” (Cage) Action Plan called for the bombing of a museum during a student visit, and also termed the killings of three missionaries, the murder of Hrant Dink, a Turkish journalist of Armenian origin, and the murder of Priest Andrea Santoro in Trabzon as “operations.”

The judges will now decide whether to combine the cases and will make their announcement at the trial’s next hearing on May 14.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Turkey's Christians Emboldened after Martyrdom

Turkey's Christians Emboldened after Martyrdom - World - CBN News - Christian News 24-7 -
Three years ago, a brutal slaying of three Christians in Malatya, Turkey, shook believers there.

Many believed the murders would stop the gospel in the Muslim nation. But a small, vibrant Christian community has worked to ensure that doesn't happen.

The horrifying attack has left its mark on the evangelical community.

Pastor Carlos Madrigal says many Turkish believers have received threats over the years, but they never expected to see such an act of violence against fellow believers.

Now, they're much more aware of the risks of being Christian in a Muslim-dominated society.

"For years, we have seen people coming to the church sometimes asking for financial help thinking that if they become Christians, they will get a passport, or best job, or things like that," Madrigal said.

"But now, after the Malatya murders, we saw that people coming are taking seriously, or considering seriously, what it means to become a Christian and it helps at some level to purify the church in Turkey."

"People are coming again to the church as maybe two, three years before again with a thirst for Christ," Madrigal said. "I believe that the seeds planted through the martyrs will bring great fruit in this country."

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

Turkey's religious head calls for worship freedom for Muslims in Europe

Turkey's religious head calls for worship freedom for Muslims in Europe [ WORLD BULLETIN- TURKEY NEWS, WORLD NEWS ]
Ali Bardakoglu, head of the Directorate of Religious Affairs, said on Tuesday that members of different religions could worship according to the requirements of their beliefs.

"The churches should be open for worship and religious ceremonies. It is their natural right," Bardakoglu said in an exclusive interview with the A.A correspondent.

Bardakoglu said religious minorities in Turkey should not feel themselves as second class citizens and underlined importance of worship and religious education according to their religious rules and principles.

Bardakoglu said restriction of religious freedoms would lead to uneasiness, indicating that freedoms were the main elements of social peace.

Bardakoglu said religious minorities living on this territory had never faced second class treatment throughout the history. "Turkey should not be a country where members of different religions experience problems with religious freedoms. Actually, Turkey is not such a country."

Alevi leaders in court for teaching faith to children in southern Turkey

Alevi leaders in court for teaching faith to children in southern Turkey - Hurriyet Daily News and Economic Review
“As citizens of the Turkish Republic, we want an answer to this question: Do we need permission to teach own beliefs to our children?” asked Hasan Atıcı, a member of the Adana Alevi Culture Research Foundation, or AKAD, during a press conference held outside the court building. “As we have done in the past, we will continue to teach our children our beliefs.”

Also speaking at the press conference, lawyer Kemal Derin said discrimination against the Alevi faith is routine in every corner of the country. “Here we are with our religious leaders, who are being subjected to this discrimination,” Derin said. “Children of Alevis are forced to learn about the [Sunni faith] at schools through compulsory religious education.”

Armenians were provocated by American missionaries

This is a common view in Turkey, and is fairly widely held across class and education levels.
Armenians were provocated by American missionaries
Giving a lecture entitled "Influence of American missionaries on Armenian nationalism" Assistant Professor Doctor Gökhan Dalyan said that American missionaries had an important role in the initiation nationalist movements in Armenian society from the begining of 19th century. "Armenians were very similar to Turkish community with their social and cultural approachs and with their traditions in the period of Ottomans," said he.
Stating that Armenians lived an ordinary life in the different regions of Anatolia till 19th century, Dalyan said that the idea of nationalism became stronger after 19th century as American missionaries intensified their efforts. Stating that missionaries attached importance to the Armenian language for spreading "Armenian nationalism", Dalyan said, "With the schools they opened for Armenians, they wanted to establish a unity of language. They educated children of different poor families in these schools and they spread Armenian nationalism. Those schools gave many "komitadji" graduates."
"Churches started to use the ordinary people's Armenian dialect in religious ceremonies, instead the Armenian language that nobles were using," said he.

Sunday, April 04, 2010

Minister Bağış congratulates Christians on Easter

Minister Bağış congratulates Christians on Easter
In his message, Turkish State Minister & Chief Negotiator for EU Talks Egemen Bağış said, "I am happy to share the feelings of tolerance and unity on such a feast that connects people to one another with their beliefs. I hope our Christian citizens have a happy and peaceful feast day together with their families".

Earlier in the day, a religious ceremony was held at Fener Greek Orthodox Patriarchate in Istanbul to mark the Easter.