James Dobson, Ronnie Floyd Commend Trump and Pence for Pressing Turkish President to Release American Pastor Andrew Brunson

May 17, 2017 07:42 AM EDT

Focus on the Family founder Dr. James Dobson issued a statement commending Pres. Donald Trump and Vice-President Mike Pence for being "defenders of the church" in their efforts to press the Turkish president to immediately release American pastor Andrew Brunson.

Dobson said Trump and Pence's dialogue with Pres. Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey showed their intention to uphold religious liberty not just in the U.S. but also in other countries.

"President Trump and Vice President Pence have yet again demonstrated that they are 'defenders of the church' focused intently upon religious liberty here but also on religious liberty abroad," Dobson said in a statement.

"Of the countless issues facing our world, it's clear that to this White House the well being of any individual American rests at the top of the list of priorities and especially when that American is a prisoner of conscience," Dobson said.

"I commend the President and Vice President for using their power for good, and I call upon people of faith throughout the United States to pray for the prompt release of Pastor Brunson," he added.

Likewise, Dr. Ronnie Floyd, former president of the Southern Baptist Convention and senior pastor of Cross Church, said he was "encouraged" to hear that Trump and Pence brought up the issue of Brunson's incarceration during their meeting with Erdogan.

"I've spent my entire life as a pastor, and I've travelled throughout the world encouraging those whose faith leads them to service abroad. No American pastor should fear imprisonment at the hands of an American ally," Floyd said in a statement.

"I thank God we have an administration that cherishes the freedom of religion as our founders hoped we would. I join with millions of others in prayer for the swift release of Pastor Brunson from his Turkish prison," he added.

Trump and Pence met with Erdogan on Tuesday to discuss how to strengthen the ties between the U.S. and Turkey. Among the issues they raised was that of Brunson, who was detained in Turkey seven months ago for reportedly being involved with an armed terrorist organization. Brunson was detained even though no charges were filed against him.

The readout of Trump and Pence's meeting with Erdogan, released by the White House, says that "President Trump raised the incarceration of Pastor Andrew Brunson and asked that the Turkish Government expeditiously return him to the United States."

In March, Brunson wrote a letter addressed to Trump asking for his help with the case. The pastor said he had been falsely accused of being a part of a terrorist group.

"Even though I have a long public track record as a church pastor, they falsely accuse me of being a member of an Islamist terrorist group. I plead with my government-with the Trump Administration-to fight for me," Brunson wrote.

"I ask the State Department to impose sanctions. I appeal to President Trump:  please help me. Let the Turkish government know that you will not cooperate with them in any way until they release me. Please do not leave me here in prison," he added.

In April, Brunson's wife Norine met briefly with Secretary of State Rex Tillerson to ask for his help regarding her husband's case.