Fate of Turkish believers might lie in this decision

By August 27, 2012

Turkey (MNN) — Currently the cause of unrest between parties writing Turkey's new constitution, the issue of religious freedom could act as a catalyst.

"Depending on who wins this battle, they certainly will gain more power in moving the country: either toward a more secular, European/Western country," Rody Rodeheaver with IN Network explains, "or into a closed, Islamic fundamentalist country like their neighbor, Iran."

What would this decision mean for Turkish believers?

"There is great danger here, and in the midst of this are the Christians," he said.

One point of controversy in the freedom of religion proposals is education: namely, the Religious Culture and Knowledge of Ethnics (RCKE) courses required at all public schools. In this class, kids have to memorize parts of the Koran, the history of Mohammed, and various teachings from the Koran. They're also expected to participate in various Muslim celebrations and holidays.

The RCKE course puts children of believers on the front-lines of persecution. Rodeheaver explains that a common Turkish view is: "If you're a Turk, you're Muslim." This can be very difficult for kids trying to fit in at school because the RCKE course requires them to reveal their faith, making them stick out like a sore thumb.

"Our director and his children have experienced some very hurtful things," Rodeheaver said. "The children were selected for ridicule: 'You Christians, you're just all Americans in disguise.'"

Pray for Christian children who face persecution from their peers.

Another area impacted by this decision is Turkey's membership in the European Union (EU). Turks are primarily divided into two groups; some Turks want their nation to join the European Union and adopt policies with a secular lean, while others want Turkey to become a fundamental, Islamic nation. With Turkey's interest in becoming a part of the EU comes freedom for believers.

"If this changes, [believers] will lose a lot of ground and it could become very dangerous for them."

However, a recent survey by the Turkey-Europe Educational and Scientific Research Foundation (TAVAK) shows a significant drop in Turks' desire to join the EU. The study attributes this drop in support to the economic crises in EU member states and self-assurance among Turks that "they can do without the EU."

As the government continues to drag its feet toward change, there is a desperate need for prayer. Pray for the safety of believers in Turkey.

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