Erdogan may be promoting Islam all throughout Turkey,but it may not be working as successfully has he imagines, as atheism is rising in the nation according to a report:
According to a recent survey by the pollster Konda, a growing number of Turks identify as atheists. Konda reports that the number of nonbelievers tripled in the past 10 years. It also found that the share of Turks who say they adhere to Islam dropped from 55 percent to 51 percent.
“There is religious coercion in Turkey,” said 36-year-old computer scientist Ahmet Balyemez, who has been an atheist for over 10 years. “People ask themselves: Is this the true Islam?” he added. “When we look at the politics of our decision-makers, we can see they are trying to emulate the first era of Islam. So, what we are seeing right now is primordial Islam.”
Balyemez said he grew up in a very religious family. “Fasting and praying were the most normal things for me,” he said. But then, at some point, he decided to become an atheist.
Diyanet, Turkey’s official directorate of religious affairs, declared in 2014 that more than 99 percent of the population identifies as Muslim. When Konda’s recent survey with evidence to the contrary was published, heated public debate ensued.
The theologian Cemil Kilic believes that both figures are correct. Though 99 percent of Turks are Muslim, he said, many only practice the faith in a cultural and sociological sense. They are cultural, rather than spiritual, Muslims.
Kilic said Muslims who regularly pray, go on pilgrimages or wear veils could generally be considered pious, though, he added, being true to the faith means much more than just performing rituals or opting for certain outerwear. In his view, “judging whether a person is religious should also be based on whether he or she subscribes to certain ethical and humanitarian values.” When only taking into account people who practice Islam, he said, “no more than 60 percent of people in Turkey can be considered Muslim.”
“The majority of Muslims in Turkey are like the Umayyads, who ruled in the seventh century,” Kilic said. “The prayers contained in the Koran reject injustice. But the Umayyads regarded daily prayer as a form of showing deference towards the sultan, the state and the powers that be.”
In Turkey, Kilic said, the relationship between church and state endures. “Regular prayers have become a way to signal obedience toward the political leadership,” he said. “And prayers in mosques increasingly reflect the political worldview of those in power.”
Kilic said a lack of belief did not, of course, mean the lack of a moral compass. “Some atheists are more ethical and conscientious than many Muslims,” he said.
For nearly 16 years under Recep Tayyip Erdogan, first as prime minister and since 2014 as president, Turkish officials have increasingly used Islam to justify their politics — possibly increasing the skepticism surrounding faith in government. “People reject the predominant interpretation of Islam, the sects, religious communities, the directorate of religious affairs and those in power,” he said. “They do not want this kind of religion and this official form of piousness.” This, Kilic said, could help explain why so many Turks now identify as atheists.
‘Questioning their faith’
Selin Ozkohen, who heads Ateizm Dernegi, Turkey’s main association for atheists, said Erdogan’s desire to produce a generation of devout Muslims had backfired in many ways. “Religious sects and communities have discredited themselves,” she said. “We have always said that the state should not be ruled by religious communities, as this leads to people questioning their faith and becoming humanist atheists.”
Ozkohen cited the unsuccessful coup in 2016, in which followers of the preacher and religious scholar Fethullah Gulen are accused of rising up against Erdogan, a former ally of the theologian’s. The coup, she said, was a clash between opposing religious groups — which was followed by a major crackdown by Erdogan. “People have noticed this and distanced themselves,” she said. “Those who reflect rationally on this turn to atheism.”
As a result, Ozkohen said, “today, people are more courageous and willing to openly say they are atheists.” But the government continues to coerce people to conform to perceived religious standards. “Pressure is exerted in the neighborhoods and mosques,” she said. “And the most visible sign of this is that in 2019, schoolchildren are still obliged to study religion.” (source, source)
Now there is something to be said for “atheism” in most of the the Muslim world with select exceptions, for speaking from personal experience having worked with Muslims for many years, what most Muslims describe at “atheism” is actually an expression of agnosticism as a part of their personal disbelief in Islam. This “atheism” does not necessarily involve a denial of the existence of the one true God, but rather a personal struggle to try to understand something of a supernatural being who is not Allah, which is for most of them is their only understanding of the divine. It is a sort of genuine agnosticism in that they know something is wrong with Islam and Allah, but do not not have knowledge yet at the moment of what is true and are seeking for a point they can use to re-examine their previous religion and seek objective truth.
This is the case for most Muslims in most Muslim nations. However, as I noted, there are some notable exceptions, and Turkey is the biggest and most serious of the exceptions. This is because Turkey, while it has the name for “land of the Turk people,” and the Turks do come from Central Asia originally, the fact is that the Turks did not annihilate completely, but mixed into the inhabitants of Anatolia, which were mostly a mix of Hellenic peoples and Slavic tribes, with some Caucasian mountain people and Syriac tribes in the eastern regions. Thus Turkey may have been conquered and Islamized by Central Asian horseback riders, but the people are for the most part visibly indistinguishable from Europeans because the Turk is a European mixed with a dash of Central Asian no different than the Hungarians, Finns, Estonians, or most people in Eastern Europe.
Atheism in a European context is highly dangerous because it is synonymous with the violent persecution of Christians and Christianity at the hands of modern-day Sadducees, who care nothing for God or religion, but value power and will use the calling of blood and soil to inflame violence. This is abundantly clear with the French Revolution, which was a revolt against the Church stirred to life by an unholy coalition of Jewish revolutionaries and avaricious French and German atheists for nothing less than pure power and whose effects still persist to this day. As Ted has written, Turkey has a long history of atheistic violence and also one of eugenics, and the two work together to commit genocide, such as in the Armenian Genocide.
It is undeniably true that many Muslims willingly assisted the Turkish revolutionaries in slaughtering Christians for the will of Allah. However, it is also undeniably true that many Muslims risked their own lives to help Christians because just as the law of God is written on the hearts of all men, so are Muslims people too, and many saw the violence and instead of obeying the Young Turks instead chose to act righteously.
Ambassador Henry Morganthau, while there are many issues associated with him, poignantly observed that during the genocide there were Muslims involved, but that it was brought about by militant atheism, who showed care to neither Christian nor Muslim in their final consideration:
As a matter of fact, the Turks never had the slightest idea of reestablishing the Armenians in this new country. They knew that the great majority would never reach their destination and that those who did would either die of thirst and starvation, or be murdered by the wild Mohammedan desert tribes. The real purpose of the deportation was robbery and destruction; it really represented a new methods of massacre. When the Turkish authorities gave the orders for these deportations, they were merely giving the death warrant to a whole race; they understood this well, and, in their conversations with me, they made no particular attempt to conceal the fact….Undoubtedly religious fanaticism was an impelling motive with the Turkish and Kurdish rabble who slew Armenians as a service to Allah, but the men who really conceived the crime had no such motive. Practically all of them were atheists, with no more respect for Mohammedanism than for Christianity, and with them the one motive was cold-blooded, calculating state policy. (source)
Erdogan is presenting himself as essentially an attempt to revive Turkey’s Islamic past, and this is a real threat and must be considered as such. Atheism in Turkey is also a serious threat, and must be taken seriously too because it has a clear pattern of anti-Christian and inhuman violence.
Either way, there is no “winning side” with Turkey because just like with the political parties in the US, both will work towards the same goals. If Erdogan continues to be successful in his “transformation” of Turkey into her Ottoman past, Christians will be massacred and Turkey will start wars with her Teutonic and American ally against targets that she desires and is instructed to pursue. If for some reason Erdogan is deposed and an atheistic system comes to power, which would be the other likely scenario, then Turkey will still massacre Christians and start wars with Germany and America against her neighbors, most importantly Russia. The particular system is not important in power because the same result is guaranteed in either case, which is the resurrection of a beastly empire from the lands of Anatolia that will bring death and destruction.
It is critical that any Christian who cares for his faith and the good of the human race watch Turkey because she is going to bring about trouble no matter what path she takes.