Church Attack Leaves Turkish Christians Troubled and Confused

Many believers were already avoiding fellowship after warning by ISIS, which claimed responsibility for the killing at a Catholic congregation in Istanbul.

Turkish Christians are shaken by last weekend’s terrorist attack on a Catholic church in Istanbul.

Claimed by ISIS, it comes amid threats that have already caused some believers to shy away from Sunday services. And like the rest of their nation, Christians are confused by details that eschew easy explanations.

“Everyone is a little nervous, questioning the future,” said Ali Kalkandelen, president of the Association of Protestant Churches (TeK). “And for the next few weeks—even months—everyone will watch their backs.”

Two masked gunmen casually walked into Mass at Santa Maria Catholic Church on Sunday morning, shot into the air, and killed one person. Security footage then shows them leaving the building, only slightly less casually than when they entered.

A statement issued by Martin Kmetec, archbishop of Izmir and president of the Episcopal Conference of Turkey, expressed his community’s “shock” that an innocent person was killed in a “sacred space of faith in God.” It demanded better security for churches, a curb on the culture of hatred and religious discrimination, and that the truth be revealed.

Shortly thereafter, security services arrested two foreign nationals, from Russia and Tajikistan. ISIS later published a statement saying the attack was in response to its call to “target Jews and Christians everywhere.” The statement was followed by another from a group calling itself ISIS’s “Turkey Province,” which said that it fired its pistols during the unbelievers’ “polytheistic rituals.”

While ISIS has conducted multiple terrorist attacks in Turkey, this is the first claimed by a local branch. The so-called …

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