By the CNN staff
(CNN) - An Iranian judge has sentenced an American Christian pastor to eight years in prison after he was tried for his religious beliefs, a U.S.-based religious group said Sunday.
Saeed Abedini was swiftly sentenced by a member of the Islamic Republic's Revolutionary Court, according to the American Center for Law and Justice, an organization founded by television evangelist Pat Robertson.
CNN was not immediately able to confirm what went on in the court proceedings.
Abedini, who was born in Iran and now lives in Idaho, has been jailed in Iran since September, the group said.
"This is a real travesty - a mockery of justice," said Jordan Sekulow, executive director of the ACLJ, in a statement. "From the very beginning, Iranian authorities have lied about all aspects of this case, even releasing rumors of his expected release."
"Iran has not only abused its own laws, it has trampled on the fundamentals of human rights," added Sekulow, who represents Abedini's wife and children, who are in the U.S. "We call on the citizens of the world to rise up in protest. We call on governments around the world to stand and defend Pastor Saeed."
Abedini's trial began Monday when he and his attorney appeared in a Revolutionary Guard Court to address charges of attempting to undermine the Iranian government, the center said. His attorney apparently was shut out of some proceedings.
"We condemn Iran's continued violation of the universal right of freedom of religion and we call on the Iranian authorities to respect Mr. Abedini's human rights and release him," U.S. State Department spokesman Darby Holladay said in written statement.
The group contends that charges stem from Abedini's conversion to Christianity from Islam 13 years ago and his activities with home churches in Iran.
On Monday, the pastor gave the judge a written statement and was questioned by prosecutors and his defense lawyer, whom he met for the first time that day.
The judge in the case has faced sanctions by the European Union "because of his harsh sentences for those on trial for exercising a fundamental human right," the center said.
Naghmeh Abedini, the pastor's wife, said last week that a few laymen with the Christian church in Iran told her husband's attorney that they had been called to testify in the case.
She said that when she last spoke with her husband on January 9, he was resigned to a fate of remaining in prison.
The Iranian state-run news agency ISNA reported Monday that the pastor would soon be released on bail - which Naghmeh Abedini charged Tuesday was "clearly a lie."
Saeed Abedini has been arrested nearly 10 times in the past by the Iranian authorities, his wife said. The last time he had been held was in 2009, when he agreed to stop supporting home churches. He has taken nine trips to Iran, where he was born and where his parents live, since then.
His wife said he felt that it was safe to go back repeatedly because he had had no dealings with the authorities since he promised to stop working with Christian home services.
Once he even went with his wife and two children. He and Naghmeh are both converts to Christianity from Islam, and they received threats during the most recent family visit, so she took the children home. He returned to their home in Boise, Idaho, later.
Last summer, the pastor was on a bus that was crossing from Turkey into Iran. Immigration officials took away his passport and he was later put under house arrest. In September he was jailed, in the notorious Evin prison, while he awaited trial.
This is tragic, but its the risk any American takes when preaching a religion in that part of the world.
So, who's his...I mean what's his wife doing now? Does she need to get a job? Will Pat Robertson support the family?
He went back to Iran knowing what would happen if he started preaching Christianity. I served in the navy for 17 years and have visited many Muslim countries. First rule you go by is to respect that countries laws and traditions.
Well, let's face it. The guy went there nine times, got a break...then went back again. If you're gonna be a dumbazz, then you will find yourself in a predicament such as he is in. It's a risk he took, and like a true Christian, he'll just have to face the lions.
Maybe other countries around the world should start doing the same thing to people that preach about the Muslim religion. I can hear the Iranians crying already about injustice.
Muslims spread their religion by having children, not proselytizing. It's christians (and others) who attempt to spread their ideas by word.
Actually, Muslims are handing out free Korans, just like Christians are doing with the Bible.
Well, being that he is Iranian he knows what happens when you start preaching Christianity around in Iran. Though a totally ridiculous sentence that just is the way a backwards country like Iran reacts.
Go to a country and arrogantly break their laws, then expect to go to jail.
Exactly. And the almighty Pat Robertson won't go there to preach or get you off. No, he'd rather send some other, young sucker.
Face it. It's the lord's will that this happen.
He's just doing what god "put" on his heart!
Doesn't matter that he was arrested nearly 10 times before. God has told him to go and spread his word.
Let's wait and see what the evangelicals' response will be now!
Onward christian soldiers! (except to Iran)
Let the lords' will be done!!
In jesus' name amen!
Comic book characters don't tell sane people what to do.
I didn't tell him anything, neither did my God!
We're all created from star dust. Once you understand that fundamental concept, religion, conversion, belief, faith and all the other aspects of instilling and controlling fear through ignorance goes away.
He was foolish. Played Russian roulette and found there was a bullet in every chamber.
From the crucible shall rise another giant of the Christian faith. What was meant by false teachers of islam for evil will result in greater glory for Christ.
Batman #2 is a better book than your silly comic without pictures.
If you choose to go to a country, then you need to obey its lawsm, regardless of the nature of these laws. If you break the laws of the country you are visiting or you are staying in, then don't complain out loud and expect others to wage a war to release you. Generally speaking so-called Christian missionary groups have been active in the middle east, particularly Iran trying to convert the Muslim masses to the worshiping of the so-called Lord of the Lords Jesus Christ. Vast majority of Christian faith is heretic and hersay and does not make any sense, like a fairytale and the Greek gods stories. They say "Worship Jesus the Lord and you are guaranteed heaven and all your past and future sins are wiped out. God loves us so much he sent us his own son or they will say God came down himself to earth " I say to those who believe so, dream on or wake up from dream. Jesus will not know you on that day and will kick you out"..... ""Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works?And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity." (Mathew : 7:21-23)
Islam is evil. It brings degradation. Look at all islamic countries for example.
Jesus Christ "3eesa" your prophet, the son of God ( yes, God did not get a baby, he was born like Adam, a miracle, a man that had powers of Allah on Earth Unlike prophet Mohamad (sws) who died poisoned by Jews ( what an ending).
See the bigger picture, violence has zero tolerance in Christianity whereas has importance in Islam.
Polygamy in Islam, zero tolerance of polygamy in Christianity.
Apostasy ( killed for leaving islam). No punishment in Christianity !
Mohamad (SWS) killed, he was an army commander and had 11 wives in his lifetime. Jesus Christ is the Prince of Peace.
Get real my brother, wake up !
this guy Khaled does not know what he is talking about. God is one is right , but He does not understand the father son and holy ghost. They are one. god, has three forms. they are all one God. Jesus takes the form of the angel of the Lord, but he does not have an angel , He is the angel. the scripture is clear on this.
Therefore if any man be in Christ,
he is a new creature:
old things are passed away;
all things are become new.
And all things are of God,
who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ,
and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation;
that God was in Christ,
reconciling the world unto himself,
not imputing their trespasses unto them;
and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation.
Now then we are ambassadors for Christ,
as though God did beseech you by us:
we pray you in Christ's stead,
be ye reconciled to God.
For he hath made him to be sin for us,
who knew no sin;
that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.
(2 Cor. 5:17-21)
Had to laugh, yesterday, when Live4Him "corrected" you on John 3:36...your use of the CEV Bible was accurate, despite all those claim only their translation is ordained by God...
Wrath is an emotion...
The character in your story book, christ, is nothing more than myth.
"When you believe in things that you don't understand then you suffer. Superstition ain't the way." – Stevie Wonder
Robert,,, You want to truly believe in God...... Believe in the one God, the one the created the heavens and the earth, the God of Adam, Noah, Ibraham, Moses, Jesus and Mohammad as well as all of the other prophets he chose to deliver His message to peope..... Believe in the God. Say not He has a son. Say not He is Three. Say God is one.
Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works?
And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity. (Mathew : 7:21-23)
Do not marvel at this; for the hour is coming when all who are in the tombs will hear his voice.
And come forth, those who have done good, to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil, to the resurrection of judgment. I can do nothing on my own authority; as I hear, I judge; and my judgment is just, because I seek not my own will but the will of him who sent me. (John, 5:28-30)
Let not your hearts be troubled; believe in God, believe also in me (John, 14:1)
There are no good reasons to believe those stupid old fairy tales.
If god's behavior wasn't as stupid as the bible describes, I might be tempted to believe.
Hey S-3B Viking,
There are bible scholars who understand Hebrew and Greek that say the KJV is about as close as you can get to an accurate English translation. I like it just because it is the one I have read the most. It is the official version for the church I attend and that is ok too. I have read a little of the CEV over the last year or so. It is much easier to read and so far I think it conveys the message pretty well.
Live4Him seems like a good person, and if he is spreading the good news, it will be ok.
Most historians accept that Jesus was a real person, the only real dispute was whether he was the son of God.
If you will approach the word of God prayerfully there is not much trouble understanding. The truth will set you free.
Correct me if I misunderstood your post, you are saying you believe in the God of Abraham, but that Jesus was a prophet, not the son of God?
Your choice, but I am a Christian. I believe that Jesus is the son of God, was crucified, buried, rose again, and is seated at the right hand of the father making intercession for us.
This may be contrary to your faith, but I also believe that John was the last prophet.
There are no good reasons to disbelieve.
@ RB glad the wrath of emotions is in Robert Brown's mind.
Euducation and ethics
Undoubtedly it is the judgment of God that gives you pause.
Have you ever read the book of Hosea?
God told him to marry a prosti.tute, they had children, she went back to prosti.tution. God told him to go get her back, he did. He loved her, even though he hated the things she did. She broke his heart, but he still loved her and forgave her.
God was showing Hosea his behaviour toward the children of Israel. They betrayed him, he went and got them. They betrayed him, he took them back.
It is a message for us today. We have betrayed him, we broke his heart, but he loves us so much, that he will take us back. If we mess up again, he will forgive us and take us back again.
God’s forgiveness is very appealing to me.
I am glad his spirit is in this earthen vessel.
Peace, joy, and hope to you.
Thanks RB but I was hard wired for hope at birth.
Look, there is no compulsion in Islam at all. No Muslim army ever put a single foot in Indonesia yet the country has the largest Muslim population in the whole word, Egypt has 10 Million Christians living over many centuries amidst Muslims, Morocco and Iran has thousands of Jews living for centuries. That being said, what this guy did is illogical, no offense, but this is like someone trading F22 raptor for a WW1 plane and worse by doing so distanced himself from the true teachings of Jesus. You see, Adam, Abraham, Noah, Jesus and Moses, etc were all Muslims, I can see the jaws dropping but Islam is nothing but worshiping the one and only one God, believing in his messengers, angles, books, and the last day. Simple and without myths or “human customizations” that today’s Christians and Jews have done over the centuries. No wonder why the first verse revealed by God in the Quran was “Read”. Any serious and sincere Jewish or Christian scholar will simply realize that she /he is a Muslim without even knowing.
There are no such things as gods. Your prophet mohammed was a pedophile, who took the 365 gods of the tribes, and decided that only one was the one true god. He was a fool as are those who disregard the thosands of gods men have created, and try to claim theirs is the right one. You can dismiss all of the other thousands of gods, just one more step to reality. reject that last one and you will start on your path to reality.
Dude, go tell that cr apo la to the ignorant. Islam is from Satan and all those people you mentioned were not muslims. Some were Jewish as was Jesus. Old mohamed brought an evil and vile thing to this world and death and murder increased because of it. You guys claim the same God but it is no way near it. You know Satan thinks he's greater than God?
You are a nut, anyone that studies a little of the Qur'an will see it is mostly a book of 7th century beliefs meant to undermine Christianity and Judaism. With one caveat, If you leave Islam you will surely be put to death.
Jews don't put folk in jail for leaving the faith.
Christianity did away with the practice of killing people that leave the faith about the same time Muhammad wrote the Qur'an.
It's gonna take about 700 years for Muslims to look back on this conviction and label it as the actions of the uncivilized.
I'd take an F22 of a camel any day.
Not believing in God is like humans finding transformers on Mars then explaining that Mars natural elements carved that over the years instead of the more intuitive explanation that aliens do exist and created those advanced machines. Remember that you were created from a sperm so don't think that God can't bring you back and judge you on what you do and say. With the explosion of the internet many are getting desperate to stop Islam’s message by attaching a huge stigma to Islam thanks to some misguided Muslims. Muhammad was a feminist; he gave women the right to vote, fight and inherit one thousand five hundred years before western civilization did. Don’t think that today’s dictatorships in Arabia and elsewhere are any representation of the true teachings of Islam. I can't be prouder than being a Muslim and won't trade this for the whole world. Love America too and the good people it has – for the most part. One thing doesn't take from the other.
Transformers are a figment of someones imagination, they offered it to the masses and we find them pleasing and fun. Islam and the whole of the god experience was offered to the masses and the masses find it pleasing.
We can see Mars, we've sent probes to Mars. I've never seen heaven and I've never met Noah, Abraham, Moses, Jesus or Muhammad. Those guys promised a great deal and so has God but in the end were are saved from nothing by following any of their teachings.
They all promised everlasting life but God and religion can't over come the very thing it claims to save us from and that is death
How can you trust something you can't see when you won't embrace something you do see? I'd rather go to Mars than submit to god through, Islam, Christianity or Judaism to try and find an imagined heaven.
Do Muslims fear that too may people will convert from Islam to Christianity and there won't be enough Muslims around if the 12th Imam reappears?
Not far from it. In Iran, the young are leaving or not joining islam in droves. They have to meet in secret. Many mullahs are outwardly muslim but secretly are christians. They top dogs know this and it scares them to no end.
Is your religion really yours if you keep it secret? Can a person be cowardly on the outside and brave on the inside?
Not really... Muslims are not worry they are going to lose more people to Christianity. I went to many Christian Churches in the West and I am a Muslims. I have found out by just simple observation that what they preach in churches about Christianity is nonsense and does not stand a chance against the solid faith of Islam (submission to God) the same faith of Abraham and his sons, Ishamel and Isaac and then Jacob. God is one. Say Not He has a son. Say not He is three. Say God is one.
Sadly there is not justice in Iran . This pastor did know this and still choose to push the Iranian laws. Sadly he must pay the price . I find it funny that the ACLU is yepping about this when they stand up for more proven criminals in the US then they do for the criminals victims . The ACLU is a joke and also should be considered terrorist organization because they stand up more for terrorists and criminals they they do for the law biding citizens of America
ACLU "about us": The ACLU is our nation's guardian of liberty, working daily in courts, legislatures and communities to defend and preserve the individual rights and liberties that the Constitution and laws of the United States guarantee everyone in this country.
What does the ACLU have to do with Iran?
Can you cite references for your assertions concerning the ACLU?
You realize the ACLU defends those whose rights they argue are being criminally infringed upon?
Mike, I believe the article says it is the ACLJ – a Pat Robertson founded organization.
I agree with you, however, that this person knew the risks in going against Iranian law in the country of Iran. It is amazing how many folks each year are imprisoned in other countries due to some mistaken belief that the laws of the USA would apply to them wherever they are.
I partly agree with the post; The ACLU is totally a joke and support many criminals or wanta be's.
Mr. President, You wanted a 2nd term. Well, you got it. Now, stand up and lead. If this man is an American citizen, it is your duty to let the Iranian leaders know that we are coming to get our citizen. We will be there in 48 hours to pick him up. No more. And let them know in no uncertain terms what is going to happen to Iran if we do not get him, alive and unharmed. You tell the place and the time. No negotiations. It is time to stop this taking of Americans, and that includes everywhere. Countries do not worry because they know we won't do anything. It is time to make them worry- a lot. It is also time to quit worrying about offending their backward religion of oppression. Mr. President, do you remember what Iran did the moment Ronald Reagan was sworn into office? The hostages were on a plane out of the country. Time for you to be Ronald Reagan and bring respect back to our country and people. This needs to happen for every American being held unjustly anywhere in the world. Act, Mr. President.
And if he does this and they don't release him?
This man broke the law in a country that is notoriously intolerant of Americans and non-Muslim religions. That's quite different from being taken hostage.
Yes Mr. President Mike is right, let's go and get him out from Iran and pay attention of persecution of the followers of Christ in Turkey as well. And stop it with your God given power and bring honor to the Cross once again.
Cut the Obama rhetoric. It's disingenuous.
He was convicted of breaking a law in a sovereign nation. We may not like it, but this in no way is comparable to the hostage situation in that this man was not kidnapped.
good to see Apple Bush back...hope you are having a great weekend.
@LittleMikey: Saeed Abedini apparently has dual citizenship. This complicates a matter you seem to believe is simple.
Apple Bush never left...
Actually, the laws of the United States do not apply in other nations. Therefore, his arrest and imprisonment are entirely legal. His personal arrogance led to his fate.
Causing a war over the fate of a fool would serve this nation very poorly indeed. Our military is already pushed to the edge by two wars – one just and one based on lies. If you wish to waste lives for this man, I suggest you go yourself.
What two wars are we fighting? We are not at a state of war in any nation.
I am having a fine weekend; hope you are too.
I am also to see Apple back.
Well, I don't know if he has been or not; I'm just glad to see him posting under the AB handle once again.
Richard, where have I said anything about wars at all?
I'm hoping you're only interested in a semantical argument with the "a state of war" comment....which tells me that you are quite arrogant in arguing just semantics...and because you're addressing Akira, gonna assume you don't think women should speak unless spoken to.
Have you ever served in the military?
Are you a citizen of the US?
Where have you been since 9/11?
Terrorism is not a nation, to fit so cleverly in your well-defined life...but we are in a state of war and conducting warfare in more than just two states.
I hope you aren't that ignorant.
If you are truly interested in accuracy of argument, I will await your wide range of comments directed at all that post here....
Sorry Akira, it was for tallulah.
She had said that we are fighting two wars, but we are not in a state of war with anyone.
Yes a veteran and US citizen. I know the difference between war and combat actions. Use the correct word.
Are we at war? no. There are no countries we are currently at war with.
Try using correct terminology
"are we at war?...there are no countries we are at war with."
Can you refer the universally accepted definition of war, please, and why it only relates to warfare with another country? Or just your definition? No one has been able to figure out Clauswitz's or Sun Tzu's definition, so I'll not wait for yours.
And you ask S3b to use "correct terminology." You sound like my lovely Chad! Just as arrogant and unthinking! Love that in my men!
Pray tell, what is "correct" in that cranium of yours, dear?
Don't answer...yours is not in this wonderful, relative world.
Richard...and you're a vet? Doubtful...you sound like a liberal politician not wanting to define Korea or Vietnam as a war because of the implications and consequences that brings...
vet my azz.
We should throw each and every muslim in America in jail for 8 years just for being God Damned muslim!
NO but if they condone violent acts against America then they should be deport immeaditly and never allowed back
Spoken like a true christian.
I'm not a christian, but I can smell evil and in Iran it stinks just like at the RNC and Congress with the GOP and tea baggers.
Let's just throw lawbreakers in jail and allow our Constitutional rights to remain intact. Only a coward would punish the many for the acts of the few.
Do not fear any of those things which you are about to suffer. Indeed, the devil is about to throw some of you into prison, that you may be tested, and you will have tribulation ten days. Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life.
One day of torture is not enough to prove your loyalty. The deity demands ten days!
What do you think was going to happen? I don't feel sympathy for this man. He went to a known hostile country towards Americans and Christians. If I went to Cuba to preach democracy and was thrown in prison, do you think anyone would be surprised that I would wind up in prison? Stupid decision on his part. That being said, I do not like Iran. But, I am also not stupid enough to travel to a country that will imprison any American for just about any charge they see fit.
agree with you 100%
The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.