U.S. religious leaders are urging American companies not to do business with Turkey so long as pastor Andrew Brunson remains imprisoned in the country.
The Turkey-U.S. Business Council (TAİK) will host its Ninth Turkey Investment Conference in New York on Sept. 26. The goal is to get American executives and business leaders to invest in the Middle Eastern country.
President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan will attend and meet with nearly 400 investors, TAİK officials said.
TAİK has been working to improve business relations between the two countries, but it is not a part of the US Chamber of Commerce.
"It is of great importance for us to create an environment for global investors to hear the investment opportunities in Turkey from top officials during a time when each step becomes quite crucial in terms of bilateral ties," said TAİK President Mehmet Ali Yalçındağ.
However, U.S. religious leaders say Erdoğan cannot be trusted, especially while he is holding an American pastor hostage in Turkey.
"What does the Brunson case have to do with business? Everything. A leader who will behave as Erdogan has will violate every agreement one can imagine if it’s in the interest of preserving his power and his personal fortune," Rev. Johnnie Moore, a member of the U.S. Commission on International Freedom (USCIRF), told CBN News.
"The US business community should join a united chorus of Democrats and Republicans and send a clear message to Erdogan that as long as Turkey holds Brunson, Turkey is too risky for business. There is no room for business-as-usual with Turkey as long as this obviously innocent husband, father and pastor is held hostage by Erdogan," he added
The USCIRF wrote a letter to President Donald Trump and other U.S. officials expressing their concerns about the conference.
"The high-profile nature of Pastor Brunson's case and regular, inflammatory public commentary by Turkish officials, including President Erdoğan, have created a precarious and potentially volatile environment that could put the safety of Pastor Brunson and his family at heightened risk," the letter reads.
The commission is one of the leading forces in the fight for Pastor Andrew Brunson's freedom.
Turkey has detained Brunson for nearly two years for "Christianization". He and his family lived in Turkey for more than two decades leading a small church and preaching the gospel before his arrest.
Brunson has endured numerous show trials, false charges, and could spend the rest of his life in a prison cell.
President Donald Trump responded by recently placing heavy sanctions on Turkey, further straining relations with the country.
Erdoğan accused the United States of an "evangelist, Zionist mentality" and vowed never to give in to such demands from the White House.
Meanwhile, Turkey's currency continues to weaken as government officials work to improve the country's economy.