Turkey Islam
Turkey's outgoing Environment and City Planning Minister Erdogan Bayraktar talks during a handover ceremony in Ankara.Reuters

A former Turkish minister has made the controversial statement that Christianity has ceased to be a religion, according to local media reports.

Erdogan Bayraktar, Turkish Environment and Urbanism Minister until December 2013, made the comments at a conference hosted by the ruling Justice and Development Party's (AKP) Women's Group.

"The biggest three countries in the world are not Muslim countries. China, India– only the US believes in a single God. Spirituality and religious feelings are weakening," Bayraktar said.

"There are 2.5 billion Christians in the world," Bayraktar said. "Christianity is no longer a religion. It's a culture now. But that is not what a religion is like. A religion teaches; it is a form of life that gives one peace and happiness. That is what they want to turn [Islam] into as well."

Robert Spencer of Jihad Watch, a website which monitors radical Islam, condemned the minister's comments.

"In other words, he is telling his audience to be on guard against those who try to water down, or should we say moderate, the teachings of Islam. Those teachings, including, presumably, the teachings of jihad warfare against unbelievers and their subjugation under the rule of Islamic law."

"Coming from an official of the ostensibly secular regime in Turkey, this is a noteworthy statement: he is essentially saying that Turkish secularism, which restricts key aspects of Islam, must be opposed," added Spencer.

Bayraktar resigned as a minister and a member of parliament last year following allegations of corruption which also threatened to embroil Turkish Prime Minister at the time Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Erdogan was recently elected to the position of Turkish President in the country's first direct vote on the position.

As of 2013, the Christian proportion of Turkey's population of 76,484,000 stands at 0.13% (approximately 100,000).