Last year, Protestant Christians in Turkey suffered no physical attacks.
There were no reported violations of their freedom to share their faith.
And there was a sharp reduction in foreign missionaries denied residency.
But not all is well, according to the 2021 Human Rights Violation Report, issued March 18 by the nationally registered Association of Protestant Churches (APC).
Hate speech against Christians is increasing, fueled by social media.
Legal recognition as a church is limited to historic places of worship.
And missionaries are still needed, because it remains exceedingly difficult to formalize the training of Turkish pastors.
“Generally there is freedom of religion in our country,” stated the report. “But despite legal protections, there were still some basic problems.”
Efforts to unite Turkey’s evangelicals started in the mid-1990s, and the APC began publishing its yearly human rights reports in 2007. Today the association, officially registered in 2009, represents about 85 percent of Christians within Turkey’s 186 Protestant churches, according to general secretary Soner Tufan.
Only 119 are legal entities.
And of these, only 11 meet in historic church buildings. The great majority rent facilities following their establishment as a religious foundation or a church association. While generally left alone, they are not recognized by the state as formal places of worship and thus are denied free utilities and tax exemption.
And if they present themselves to the government in pursuit of such benefits, officials often warn they are not a church and threaten closure. Sometimes the authorities even try to recruit informants. And some Christians who have refused have lost their jobs.
Other Turkish Protestants are simply harassed. “Dead priest walking,” said residents of Arhavi to a local pastor as…
This article was originally published at Christianity Today on April 6, 2022. Please click here to read the full text.