A newly published textbook that's mandatory for 13-year-olds to study tells how Christian missionaries' want to "break down the unity of a country by destroying the national and cultural values," according to a worldwide Christian ministry.
The warning comes from Christian Solidarity Worldwide, which said the textbook for Turkish students also warns that missionaries use "natural disasters, such as earthquakes, to serve their own interests."
Then the book advises students how they can recognize the "subversive" intentions and activities of the missionaries.
"To the Turkish state and society, the words 'missionary activity' encapsulates not only the work of foreign missionaries, but all Christian activity in the country," an official for the Alliance of Protestant Churches of Turkey told CSW.
"The state and various groups have for years, through endless disinformation, spread the belief that Turkish Christians are part of a secret foreign plot to destroy Turkey. This is the same twisted mindset that has led to numerous attacks on our churches by young people who are convinced that we are CIA agents or similar," the official, whose name was withheld, said.
CSW reported Christian communities today form less than one percent of Turkey's population of 70 million, and there are concerns that schools are systematically marginalizing indigenous Christians.
"The Turkish government has used state-initiated campaigns to influence public opinion over Muslim apostates and Christian activities in Turkey since the year 2000," CSW said. "The authorities have informed security and military forces about missionary activities, sponsored and disseminated reports, conducted seminars, preached sermons in mosques, published sensationalist articles in the press and ordered state officials to speak publicly about the dangers posed.
"This activity continued unabated during 2006 and 2007 when there were a number of fatal attacks against Christians, including the grotesque murders in April 2007 of two Turkish Muslim-background Christians and one German missionary in Malatya," CSW said. "Shortly after these murders, Niyazi Guney, from the Ministry of Justice, declared before the Justice Commission at the Turkish Grand National Assembly that missionary activities in Turkey were more dangerous than terrorist attacks and likened their activity with the end times of the Ottoman Empire."
Five defendants are accused of setting up a meeting with the Christians at a Bible publishing house, then viciously attacking and killing them.
Tilman Geske of Germany and Turkish nationals Necati Aydin and Ugur Yuksel died in the attack.
Christians have been subjected to numerous attacks in recent years. In 2006, a Turkish teen shot to death a Roman Catholic priest as he prayed in his church. Two other priests were attacked the same year. Early last year came the death of Armenian Christian editor Hrant Dink.
When the publishing house attack became known, Geske's widow, Susanne, responded in a way that hit the front pages of the nation's largest newspapers.
"Oh God, forgive them for they know not what they do," she said, agreeing with the words of Christ on Calvary (Luke 23.34), according to a letter Christians in Turkey wrote to the worldwide church, released through Voice of the Martyrs.
"In a country where blood-for-blood revenge is as normal as breathing, many many reports have come to the attention of the church of how this comment of Susanne [Geske] has changed lives," the letter said. "One columnist wrote of her comment, 'She said in one sentence what 1,000 missionaries in 1,000 years could never do.'"
The textbook is called, "Primary Education, History of Republican Reforms and Ataturkism," and Lesson Book 8 cites the dangers of missionaries.
"We are deeply concerned over the destructive content of this compulsory school textbook," said Alexa Papadouris, CSW's advocacy director. "It is extremely distressing to see that the Turkish government has not taken proactive steps to address increasing attacks on Christians, but instead continues to promulgate disinformation about the small Christian community.
"CSW calls on the European Union to urge the Turkish authorities to respect and promote religious freedom for all, at every level in Turkish society, particularly in the media and in educational material," she said. "Moreover, we call on the European Union to continue to address with Turkey the issue of violent attacks against religious minorities, seeking guarantees that the perpetrators of violence will be brought to justice through the courts in accordance with due process of law."
The book states:
Due to its position our country has been subject to various threats throughout history. Powers whose aim has long been to eradicate Turkish existence in Anatolia have pursued destructive acts against Turkey. These actions aim to break up, divide and rule the country.
One of these negative actions is the one of missionary activities carried out by religious organizations. Missionary activities engage not only clergy (men of religion) but non-clergy too. These people tend to use social service organizations and through those who work in such organizations. Missionaries infiltrate the public and use such universal concepts such as love, peace, brotherhood, freedom, happiness etc., to influence especially the youth.
The book then warns missionaries "will use events that affect the public such as earthquakes, terror attacks, hunger etc., to serve their own interests, will pursue their activities with the big financial support of foreign political powers, some NGOs, and their own circles, will meet the financial and educational needs of the people and families, and whom they direct their propaganda towards, will translate holy scriptures into the local language and dialects and give them out to people for free."
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