By J. Grant Swank, Jr.
Nov 23, 2004
With Turkey requesting admission into the European Union, there seems to be a bit more relaxed atmosphere regarding Christians, their churches and seminaries.
But if the EU refuses Turkey admission, will that mean all the more repressive tactics against Christians and their churches?
Right now there is a prominent Christian church in Turkey that is in dire need of repair. An explosion prompted by political antagonisms damaged parts of the church. Rain leaks through. Windows are shattered. Carpet has molded. As the spiritual leaders have requested permission from the government to repair the church, no answer has been received.
Parishioners state that that’s the way that Turkish officials deal with religious faith. At times, even the Muslims come in for the sidelined response from government officials because Turkey is priding itself on being totally secular. Therefore, when that particular Christian church asks for permission to repair damages, the typical official answer is no answer at all.
Therefore, the church continues to roll up its carpets that have molded. Worshipers attend services in the sanctuary that leaks rain on their heads. And the spiritual leadership wonders when it’s all going to improve.
If the EU refuses Turkey admission, then it could be that the officials will be all the more repulsed by any religious expression. So it’s a troubling question either way for believers. The Christians simply don’t know what the future holds for their expression of faith.
It’s the same with a seminary that was closed in the early 1970s. Will admission to the EU permit the seminary to reopen so that young men can be instructed in ministry? Time will tell.
As Susan Sachs of the New York Times writes, “Some hard-liners in Turkey see diversity as divisive.” The best religion in Turkey is no religion at all, according to those who have held power for too long.