No Place of Worship for Christians
Date of incident: September 30, 2010
Category: Government Restrictions
Attack against: Faith
Area of case: Governmental / Islamist / Political
In a report released in September 2010, the Association of Protestant Churches details the fundamental problems faced by Christians in Turkey. Among them, the place of worship is a troublesome one.
Turkey's current legal regulation calls to facilitate the establishment of places for worship, yet the legal requirements and the conduct observed by officials have conveyed only negative responses to nearly every request for construction of non-Muslim churches.
The zoning law establishes that places of worship should be built at a minimum of 2,500 meters squared. For a small Christian community of 40-50 members per neighborhood, it is neither necessary nor possible to afford the purchase of such a parcel. Even the few cases in which such a building could be afforded, Turkish officials denied permits on the ground that the Christian population was not significant enough to justify such a construction.
Many Turkish Protestants have officially declared to be Muslim to avoid discrimination and risks. Given the current situation, many Protestant creeds function as associations; they gather and pray in “house churches”, and therefore their cult remains “invisible” to society. This solution is far from being risk-free, however. Many associations have been forced to close because they look “very similar” to a church. The reality of the Turkish Protestant situation remains dangerous, discriminatory, and unsolved.