Date: June 18, 2020
Turkey (MNN) — On the program WorldView, SAT-7 TURK condemned the recent vandalism of Armenian churches in Turkey.
Turkey recently rejected the US State Department’s report, which placed them on a “Special Watch List” for a lack of religious freedom. Religious and ethnic minorities in Turkey continue to face threats and violence.
The vandalized churches are part of the Armenian Apostolic Church, which is the national church of the Armenian people. Turkey still does not acknowledge the Armenian genocide between 1914 and 1923.
Joe Willey, Marketing and Communications Manager with SAT-7 North America, says, “Two churches were vandalized in Istanbul. The first church suffered an arson attempt. After the arson attempt, another church was vandalized and had [a] cross removed. The suspect [of the first incident] reportedly made a statement to authorities blaming non-Muslims for the COVID-19 pandemic.”
COVID-19 has caused a lot of fear and uncertainty in Turkey and other countries, Willey says. “A loss of jobs, a weakened economy, and a disruption of normal routines have created a climate of stress.”
SAT-7 TURK’s response
SAT-7’s program WorldView responded to this vandalism first by listening. Willey says, “They consider current events. But then they turn to God’s Word to encourage Christians, but also to demonstrate God’s mercy to non-Christians.”
Specifically, the WorldView presenters turned to Acts chapter 10 and the story of Peter seeing a sheet being let down with many different kinds of animals in it. They encouraged viewers to see that God does not distinguish between different people groups. All are equally welcome into Christ’s kingdom.
WorldView encourages a healthy discussion on the issues of racial justice and unity. They’re examining the protests and the overall history of events through a biblical perspective.
As unrest and protests mount, Willey encourages Christians to pray for their brothers and sisters around the globe. “I think following this story, but also other stories on SAT-7 will help raise general awareness of difficulties that Christians face in the Middle East and North Africa. When you follow the plight of other Christians, it really does create empathy and your prayers become more focused.”
Christians in these countries face challenges difficult to understand in the United States, Willey says. “I have never witnessed a baptism at a church in which, by professing faith in Christ and being baptized, you are actually putting yourself or your family in danger. That’s never an experience I’ve had.”
Saint Gregory the Illuminator Church of Galata, the church in Istanbul that had a cross removed. (Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons)