An unwanted child

Secularism, religious freedom, and the Turkish Protestant Church


  • James Bultema


secularism, Islam, religious freedom, Turkey, Turkish Protestant Church


Turkey’s secularism and the extent of religious freedom in the country are affected by enduring Ottoman influences. These influences have not only hindered the integration of secularism into all levels of state and society but have obscured evidence of a synergy between secularism, religious freedom, and the Turkish Protestant Church (TPC). Although intertwined with Sunni Islam, secularism has provided a context in which well-protected religious freedom, granted in the 1961 Constitution, could catalyze the TPC’s emergence. Moreover, the TPC has helped the state and society to manifest and nurture its commitment to religious freedom, so that it has proven to be more than the arbitrary religious tolerance of Ottoman times.

Author Biography

James Bultema

The Rev. James Bultema is a PhD candidate in Theology and Religious Studies at the Evangelische Theologische Faculteit in Leuven, Belgium. Since 1990, he and his wife have resided in Turkey, where they raised their three children. James first served as interim and then as associate pastor at the Union Church of Istanbul before moving to Antalya. There, James led the way in founding the St. Paul Cultural Center ( and the St. Paul Union Church, which he served as pastor for 19 years. He is currently leading an effort to establish the Mozaik Cultural Center (



2022-03-03 — Updated on 2022-03-03