September 29th, 2011
06:58 AM ET
U.S. condemns Iranian pastor's conviction
By Dan Merica, CNN
Washington (CNN) - The White House Thursday condemned the conviction of an Iranian pastor, who may be executed in Tehran for refusing to recant his religious beliefs and convert from Christianity to Islam.
Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani "has done nothing more than maintain his devout faith, which is a universal right for people," a White House spokesman said in a statement. "That the Iranian authorities would try to force him to renounce that faith violates the religious values they claim to defend, crosses all bounds of decency and breaches Iran's own international obligations."
The United States Commission on International Religious Freedom, an independent advisory group appointed by the president and Congress to monitor religious freedom around the world, Wednesday expressed "deep concern" for Nadarkhani, the head of a network of Christian house churches in Iran.
After four days of an appeals trial for apostasy, Nadarkhani refused to recant his beliefs, the commission said. Chairman Leonard Leo said the pastor "is being asked to recant a faith he has always had. Once again, the Iranian regime has demonstrated that it practices hypocritical barbarian practices."
While the trial is closed to the press, Leo said the commission collects information from sources in Iran and around the world.
The commission's statement also called the trial a sham and said Iran is violating the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which it is a party.
"A decision to impose the death penalty would further demonstrate the Iranian authorities' utter disregard for religious freedom, and highlight Iran's continuing violation of the universal rights of its citizens," the White House statement said. "We call upon the Iranian authorities to release Pastor Nadarkhani and demonstrate a commitment to basic, universal human rights, including freedom of religion."
Nadarkhani was first sentenced to death in November 2010, the commission said, and in order to avoid the death penalty, he is being asked to recant his beliefs and convert to Islam. Leo said an apostasy trial is rare in Iran; the last occurred in 1990.
Iran's claim stems from the pastor's Muslim parents. According to Leo, the court needed to verify if Nadarkhani had ever been a Muslim. In order to be given what Iran claims is the opportunity to recant his beliefs, Nadarkhani must have never been a Muslim before the age of 15, Leo said.
Because he was given the opportunity during the four-day trial, it is apparent that the Iranian court found he was never a Muslim and therefore Nadarkhani could have converted.
According to a source close to the situation within the Commission on International Religious Freedom, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the Supreme Leader of Iran, would have to sign off on the execution. Speaking on the condition of anonymity because of the subject's sensitivity, the source said such cases in Iran are difficult because of the lack of transparency in leaders' decision-making.
The source also said that in the past, political prisoners have had their prison time and punishment reduced by the Iranian government. Though they did not say that was guaranteed in this situation, the source indicated it was a possibility.
The American Center for Law and Justice, a right-leaning organization founded by television evangelist Pat Robertson, reported Wednesday night that Nadarkhani's death sentence had been overturned, meaning that the pastor would be receiving a lesser punishment. They sourced the claim to someone in Iran.
Those reports could not be independently verified by CNN. The Permanent Mission of the Islamic Republic of Iran in the United Nations failed to comment on the ruling.
Jordan Sekulow, executive director of the ACLJ, said the outcry from Christians in America has been loud and sustained.
"American Christians, like never before, are engaged in this," Sekulow said. "This is evidence that Christians in America over the past decade have done a better job engaging in the persecution issue."
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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.
It is the same as if we went around America and started locking people up for being muslim. Oh he may not be killed, but he will still be punished for his faith. This is an atrocity. I am truly sick and tired of every me I look at the news there is some form of muslim violence, or civil rights violation. I have a difficult time accepting that islam is peaceful, or that islam is anything more than a bunch of lunatics running around preaching when I hear about this sort of thing.
Hate speech by Christians against gays and "Christians" picketing military funerals is so much cuter, isn't it? Islam is not alone in slaughtering in the name of religion. Christianity has been good company for centuries.
Did you know the FBI used the census to create a list of Muslims in the US?
An act that was TOTALLY illegal?
They are dirt. I just hope we don't end up as dysfunctional.
It is the job of ALL people to keep their governments honest
Reflect on Christian violence. Turn off the TV. Engage in your community. Meet Muslims. The media shouldn't be telling you what the world is- go out and find out for yourself.
"Did you know the FBI used the census to create a list of Muslims in the US?"
The census does not ask about religious belief due to conflict with the First Amendment.
Please educate yourself.
Please clarify. I see nothing in that article about using census information to identify Muslims.
Additionally, for you own education:
"Public Law 94-521 prohibits us from asking a question on religious affiliation on a mandatory basis; therefore, the Bureau of the Census is not the source for information on religion." (http://www.census.gov/prod/www/religion.htm)
Here it is from the times.
This was actually done. Here is a better article reference.
And being a databse nerd, I can ASSURE you that you can identify Muslims
Just start with the Muhammeds!
I don't understand how this article supports your claim that the "FBI used the census to create a list of Muslims in the US."
Especially, when it states clearly that this was the LAPD and that it only "proposed using U.S. census data and other demographic information to pinpoint various Muslim communities...," not that it actually did use census data.
In fact later in the article it states, as I stated originally in similar words, "Others noted that the effort faces enormous practical difficulties. The U.S. Census Bureau is barred by law from asking people for their religious affiliation."
As for the FBI, it states:
"The LAPD's proposal differs substantially from the way federal counter-terrorism authorities have dealt with Southern California's Muslim community.
Stung by decades of controversy over its monitoring of antiwar and civil rights groups, the FBI has been wary of post-9/11 initiatives that would draw criticism that its anti-terrorism efforts are based on racial profiling of Muslims.
As a result, its counter-terrorism efforts have been largely driven by informants, intelligence reports or specific incidents that direct attention to a particular group or community.
'We learned our lesson early on,' one retired FBI counter-terrorism official said Friday."
Once again, please clarify how this supports your claim, since it seems to me to support the opposite of what you claim.
Sorry forgot this part.
More generally, the article also points to the FBI's strategy.
"The [FBI] official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, questioned the logic of the mapping program, reasoning that the wholesale plotting of Muslim communities - rather than zeroing in on suspected extremists - could drain counter-terrorism resources and alienate Muslim residents at a time when they are crucial to law enforcement efforts."
Live lavishly and give pittances a few.
Time will ever be the one to tell on you.
Love yourself and ever give away your calling,
What are you waiting for, quit stalling.
Keep a chest upon the drawers of faithfulness,
Always be reminded and ever, “May GOD bless“.
Man alone cannot fix the worldly affairs,
Like old folks who attempt their climbing the stairs.
The lairs of dollars to blind people’s Faiths and sicken the heart,
Maybe tomorrow Life will be given a new and fresh start.
Consider the storms of yesteryears’ drive,
Thanks be to GOD, people are still yet alive.
So you're saying mix the ingredients together and *then* cook at 350F?
The muslim religion and the zealots who control it are so insecure that they will kill or threaten to kill anyone who converts to a non islamic religion. Archaic thinking from an archaic religion.
The Christian god also says to kill evangelicals too
If your very own brother, or your son or daughter, or the wife you love, or your closest friend secretly entices you, saying, “Let us go and worship other gods” (gods that neither you nor your ancestors have known, gods of the peoples around you, whether near or far, from one end of the land to the other), do not yield to them or listen to them. Show them no pity. Do not spare them or shield them. You must certainly put them to death. Your hand must be the first in putting them to death, and then the hands of all the people. Stone them to death, because they tried to turn you away from the LORD your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery. Then all Israel will hear and be afraid, and no one among you will do such an evil thing again. - Deuteronomy 13 6:11
Iran is the worst! Ahmadinejad the president is a complete lunatic! Did you hear once again he said completely insane things at the UN meeting? I hope this Pastor is freed ..........Muslims need a lesson in tolerance & need to update their medieval ways.
do not try to divert the topic. It is human right issue. It is due to freedom of speech you said what you said.
You do not even have to think what you're saying in Islamic state like Iran. Do you understand ? Wake up & smell coffee.
Do not blame America, it gives you the freedom of believing in any thing or at all. Someone fought for you a long time ago.
What on earth do you want to fight for ? If you're aethist, fine with me. It is a freedom of choice that you are abusing, this person in Iran lacks. Do not attack left & right. Go straight to the topic...freedom of speech , freedom of choice. If you do not believe me go to Iiran & try what you're saying. If you think the person is willing to die for waht you don't believe worth, that's your choice. What if the person says what you say or believe is not worth to believe ? Do not consider yourself the only right person & the rest wrong. That's is not civilized approach.
What do you want us to do? Start a 3rd war this far into debt? How about lets try not sticking our noses into everything as we have been stung at every turn.
The Ayatollah should be the Republican candidate. Sad to say but the U.S. "condemning" the execution probably just sealed the deal.
Iran is definitely asking for trouble. Religion aside, this country has proven time and time again that they are against providing a stable, reasonable society for their people to live in. I don't care if they are Muslim, Christian, Buddhist, Hindu, Jewish – they are a barbaric and evil existence. This is one government I would like to see WIPED OUT.
Who does this surprise??? Anyone??? Were we surprised when the hikers were detained? Should we be surprised that an insane regime is going to kill off someone of a different faith that we know they dislike? This pastor should of saw this coming from MILES away. Sorry, but it's true. No less unjust, but still even a blind person could see this coming.
Only SPIES go hiking like that my freind!
Try not to be so silly!
or total dumba$$es go hiking like that. I've met plenty of ignorant people traveling overseas who think they can go wherever and anywhere they want because they are untouchable american citizens
Hikers? I'm sorry, I believe in UFO's, I believe in reincarnation, I believe that Sylvia Browne is legit, I believe that love can conquer all but even I don't believe that those 3 "hikers" were just hikers... Who in their right mind packs up gear to take a vacation galavanting down the Iraq/Iran border? It's about as absurd as the British fools that keep getting kidnapped by Somalian pirates.
Detained?? They were held for ransom, that we eventually paid. They are not stupid, they are calculating. American money fills the bank accounts of the corrupt politicians and judges, just as it did in Iraq.
The hikers were their to get caught and try and prove a point that the Iranian's are nice. Funny how they still justify the Iranian's capturing them because of how america has held captives in Cuba. What kind of stupid idiot goes to the Iranian border to make a point about defending radicals that want to kill americans in the name of their God. No matter how we act toward them, they are out to kill everyone who does not believe in their God period, end of story! They are brained washed that this will get them in heaven and also their family members.
Yeah, when I go for spies I want three stupid kids that stick out like sore thumbs to wander a hostile border until they get caught and cause an international crisis. Real low key. The next spy will wear be 6'4", blond with a texas drawl, tell everyone one he is a Muslim from Algeria and head of the Taliban, and will wear a shirt that says "I am not a spy. Really"
Boy you are all dumb.
The US is too polite and tepid in its condemnation. At this point, it is clear to all that barbarism and Islam are synonyms. Neanderthal cavemen must have been more civilized than the average muslim.
We weren't too polite when Communism spread to Vietnam. look what that got us. Some stuff we need to keep our GD noses out of. Stop with the world policing bs talk.
Neanderthal is grouping all of a people into a narrow bigoted point of view. By your comment on Average Muslims are Average Americans narrow minded and bigoted?
Even God himself gave us an agency to choose, whether it is right or wrong. Free agency is God's greatest gift to humankind. Religious missionary conversion can only be done by persuasion not by force. If Muslim religion is the only true religion, Muslims must present a solid evidence that Muslim religion is the only true religion. One evidence is that God should have a prophet among them continually and up to the present time. How do they know that Mohammad was Prophet? How do they know that the Koran is a true book of Allah? Every Muslim member must have a Testimony from God of its truthfulness. Where is Muhammad now? Where is his chosen successor? Does God reveal himself to them up to now? If it does not Muslim religion is just a big sham.
You know, if you replaced Muslim with Christian, Mohammad with Jesus, and Koran with Bible, you would debunk Christianity as the 'true' religion, too.
The United States has been murdering and executing innocent black men for the past 200 years. The United States drops bombs throughout the world on a daily basis, killing innocent people, including women and children. The United States sends its own children off to die in wars so corporations can make obscene amounts of money. The world knows who the real barbarians are. Any "condemnations" made by the U.S. are viewed as they should be – a sick joke.
Let's not forget that the United States is so far the ONLY country in history to have actually USED a nuke as a weapon of war, rather than just a threat. Let's not forget that the US bullies the rest of the world regarding whether they should or shouldn't have nukes. Let's not forget the US constantly keeps secrets to run their agenda. let's not forget the US probably has a lot more secret WMD technology than the world is aware of.
@ CJ et al,,,,
Truer words are and never to be wrote. I am ashamed by my birthed nation's dire forebodences. Such is the way upon the shoulders of unrighteous people who know not humility's faith and civility's humbleness.
Then feel free to leave and join another countries ranks.
Such terrible trolls. How can you fail at something so easy?
The United States is the FIRST country in to help anywhere in the world when there is a natural disaster. The United States sends its young men and women to fight for th rights and freedoms of the abused and down-trodden around the globe. You need to give your head a shake!
For the love of ......umm..... "God" please stop with the pomp and show and participate like normal people.
Iranian theocracy is barbaric regardless of the pastor's fate. This incident is just a drop in the bucket of Iranian theocratic hell.
I pray for this man...and i use no specific religious donimination to do so...cuz religion hurts people!
The case of Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani is one more proof for the backwardness of Islam. Backwardness belongs to the core tenets of Islam. The Muslims still accept a book, which was drafted by a false prophet, called Muhammad, in the beginning of the dark age (around 600 a. D.).
Why do we call the Middle Ages also dark age?
Answer: Life was very unpleasant during the dark age, because of the impact of papal rule (the pope presumed to be even the highest worldly ruler during the dark age) and the impact of Islam.
Like Islam papacy was invented around 600 a. D.. Papacy and Islam came into being at nearly the same point of time. That is very interesting.
It is possible that papacy and Islam have the same cause: Like the actually Christian Germany was ruled by the anti-Christian tyrant Adolf Hitler for some years, the actually Christian Eastern Roman Empire Byzantium was ruled by the wicked tyrant Phocas (Phocas is one of the worst tyrants of history beside Hitler; he was an ancient Hitler). It is possible that "Christian" Roman soldiers commited crimes in Palestine and Syria under Phocas' rule. Maybe Muhammad got a bad impression of Christianity and decided to invent a better religion (he had the idea that the faith of Abraham had been the genuine faith and Christianity and Judaism had corrupted Abraham's faith).
Moreover the wicked Phocas made the Roman See the highest See on earth, which was a crime, because God wants all sees to be equal. By Phocas action the Roman Catholic Church lost her invisible head, Jesus, and got a visible head, the pope.
Having lost her divine head, the RCC had to corrupt totally (increase of heresies). Around 1000 a. D. the popes reached out even for worldly rule and managed to become higher than the Emperor of the (new) Holy Roman Empire (Germany or Europe).
Thus, papacy and Islam were caused by a criminal tryrant (political offender), called Phocas. Phocas was an devil incarnate (just read the chroniclers of his time).
Hence, you can say that papacy and Islam were invented by the devil.
It is high time to overcome ultimately the dark age: Let us abolish papacy and the Islam and welcome true Christianity.
Phocas' reign of Byzantium: 602-610 a. D.. Muhammad started to preach the Islam in Arabia around 610 a. D.. Isn't that interesting?
Your are telling the truth. There is only one true church at this time, and that Church is The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. I am inviting you to join it and will definitely will agree with me if you do.
The LDS are a dangerous cult. They believe that God had had se-xual intercourse with Mary. That is blasphemy. Damned cult is that.
So now you are not dare enough to call Hitler as a known Christian. Shame on you. Don't abandon your own associates. God will come back and haunt you.
One person's blasphemy is another person's Truth.
ok, so "Islamic Republic of Iran" same as what Sudan is now.. this is an Islamic Religious state and they are not going to be tolerant of other religions per their Sharia laws.. These people are barbarians and there is no reasoning with them. Islamic Religious states make civil dictatorships look appealing.
God bless and keep this Pastor
Iran is way out of line. But so is this: "The United States Commission on International Religious Freedom, an independent advisory group appointed by the president and Congress to monitor religious freedom around the world."
So, Iran kills people who do not believe in or convert from Islam, and this is morally equivalent to setting up a commission to publicize such actions by these religious theocracies and intolerant societies. My what a relativistic morality standard.
People, this is what happens with theocracies. When you let the priests/clerics/holy people run the political side of things people die of heresy. It certainly happened in the history of the United States.
which man made god will be more pleased??
The god that told its followers to murder a man for not following their faith
or The god that allowed its follower to be murder for following his faith
Is there any chance at all – that the gods all this murder is for – would agree to battle each other, verses watching its subjects kill each other?
In the right hand corner, wearing the paisely trunks, weighing in at 97 pounds, is the Bad Azz of Bethlehem, JESUS CHRIST.
He is looking good people, and the only question left is will the stigmata diminish his punching ability?
"Is there any chance at all – that the gods all this murder is for –" don't exist? Yes, a very big chance, some might call it a certainty since there is no evidence to the contrary.
Well an interesting point is that the different gods are actually the same god and the religions both trace back to Abraham
"Well an interesting point is that the different gods are actually the same god and the religions both trace back to Abraham"
So...It's just one sick God creating differing factions who will fight among themselves for his amusement?
Whether you believe in a certain religion or not, it has shaped mankind for thousands of years including primitive and advanced cultures . It has established morals about helping the poor and doing the right thing so regardless of what god or religion you believe in, it has shaped most everyone's life in some way. If not for religion, people would still be barbarians.
Or is it that we are still barbarians because of it?
This article being one example; the comments another.
You sir, are STILL a barbarian.
Religion is the root of ALL societal dysfunction, and it needs to fade away for the good of our children.
That isn't religion, it's human compassion. Many religions have higher-ups that are allowed to govern the spiritual status of the masses. Due to this greed evolves something that seems like a good moral idea into the mess that greed tends to create...greed and power-thirst itself.
Morality does not come from religion. Religion does try to make it appear that way. Morality evolves naturally as our society advances.
Look around you. The advancement of our society was only possible through humanity working together. It would be much more difficult to work together if we had to worry about other people killing us while we weren't looking. Of course it's not perfect as these things can still happen. That's where our laws come into place.
If morality came from religion, it would not have taken 1,850 years after the bible to abolish slavery, or 1,900 years to allow women the rights that they have today. Religion adopts to the morals of society, not the reverse.
Not to mention that your god wants to torture 4.8 billion non-christians for all eternity. Sounds like your god is immoral to me.
"Morality evolves naturally" ???
I don't think these three words can even go together in the same sentence, much less follow each other back to back.
Paul the apostle couldn't have put it better in Romans 2:14-15 "for when Gentiles, who do not have the law, by nature do the things in the law, these, although not having the law, are a law to themselves, who show the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and between themselves their thoughts accusing or else excusing them."
Morality and conscience is a matter of our hearts, the concepts of right, wrong, and fairness are "programmed" in each of us from God. This is by far the best explanation you will get from the word morality. Through the evolutionary scope, you get that morality is a learned or a series of adopted behavior to ensure the survival of the species. Well, that just doesn't make any sense. Each culture has its own morality system and whether we want to admit it or not, there is a great culture clash in our world...and we are not surviving. So, I guess Hitler wasn't all that bad, just surviving(?)
"Morality and conscience is a matter of our hearts, the concepts of right, wrong, and fairness are 'programmed' in each of us from God."
If "programmed" then how can there be sin? Free will you say? But if right and wrong are written on our hearts would we freely choose right?
Your position, I suspect, is unfalsifiable, in that if one does "wrong" it is attributed to their free will and if one does "right" it is attributed to their "programming" by God, when in reality you have no way of determining if either is source of anything.
It is just as true to say that God "programmed" the evil in us as a test to be overcome and it is our free will that God wants to choose the good options.
Iran and the other Muslim sand lands are all barbaric. The way they treat women children, little girls, their stone age beliefs, etc. All primitive barbarians
Actually i think they are Iron Age beliefs.
Christianity is Bronze Age.
It's the Republicans who are Stone Age!
Gary, your ignorance doesn't surprise me (I've heard comments like yours before). Did you know the Middle East is where mathematical calculations , algebra, geometry, etc. started??? Did you know it was an ancient Iranian who discovered alcohol??? Did you know that the earliest known Bill of Human Rights was written by King Cyrus, ruler of the Persian Empire? A replica of this bill (written on the Cyrus cylinder) is displayed at the United Nations building in New York. Under the Persian Empire (long before Islam wreaked it's havoc), people of all faiths lived peacefully. Cyrus is the first known conqueror who did not oppress the Jews but rather allowed them to return to Jerusalem to rebuild their temple. Just do an internet search on Iran's history. Stories of King Cyrus and his treatment of religious minorities (ie. Jews) are also recorded in the Bible, of which many American Christians read and adhere to. You also called the Middle East "sand lands". Many parts of Iran have 4 seasons, and yes, it actually snows there!!!
What's happening in Iran and other parts of the Middle East are a product of Islams backward ways. It's Islam that's barbaric, not the people. The only exception to this is the government and the people that run it. They just want to hold on to their power and they use barbaric methods to do so.