This week Christian Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani faced an Iranian
court for his third and final "opportunity" to recant his Christian
faith. When he refused to do so, he was sentenced to death for
apostasy, a judgment that may be carried out at any time.
It is unfathomable to most thinking people that a person in the
21st Century can be put to death simply for espousing a faith that
differs from that of his nation's ruling powers. Belief cannot be
prescribed or proscribed. Faith is the most basic, fundamental
right of every human being.
While this kind of religious intolerance from the Islamic
government and so-called justice system in Iran (Sharia Law)
doesn't surprise me, the initial virtual silence of the
international community does. A man is sentenced to be killed for
the "crime" of a sincere belief in Jesus Christ - a sentence in
clear violation of international law. So where is the international
The international community is complicit in Iran's outrage if
our leaders remain silent. House Speaker Boehner was one of the
first leaders in the U.S. to speak out against the atrocity of the
Iranian court's sentence against Pastor Nadarkhani. The White House
has now issued a statement condemning the sentence and calling for
Nadarkhani's immediate release. U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon
and others on the world stage should take immediate action to
condemn the sentence imposed on Pastor Nadarkhani. We must join our
voices to continue to press world leaders to take action. Pastor
Nadarkhani's life hangs in the balance.
Matthew's Gospel tells us, "Blessed are those who are persecuted
for righteousness' sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven."
Pastor Nadarkhani will certainly be blessed for his unwavering
faith when he stands before God. But I hope that Christians will
join me in praying for his rescue in this life as well.
December 7 update - No decision on the fate of
Pastor Nadarkhani has been announced by Iranian supreme leader,
Ayatolla Ali Khamenei.
The Billy Graham Evangelistic Association of Canada