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Christian pastor - once sentenced to death in Iran - is released, group says
September 8th, 2012
05:26 PM ET

Christian pastor - once sentenced to death in Iran - is released, group says

By Michael Martinez, CNN

(CNN) - A Christian pastor sentenced to death in Iran for apostasy was reunited with his family Saturday after a trial court acquitted him, said a nonprofit group monitoring the case.

Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani, born to Muslim parents and a convert to Christianity by age 19, was released after being held in prison for almost three years under a death sentence, said Tiffany Barrans, international legal director of the American Center for Law and Justice.

Setting aside the death sentence, a trial court convicted Nadarkhani of a lesser charge - evangelizing Muslims - and declared that his prison sentence had already been served, Barrans said.

His case drew international attention after his October 2009 arrest, and the 34-year-old pastor refused to recant his Christian beliefs.

Nadarkhani was greeted by his wife and two small sons upon his release, but it's unclear whether the pastor will continue preaching, said the center, a conservative organization founded by television evangelist Pat Robertson.

"His ability to preach in Iran, I don't know," Barrans told CNN. "But I think at this point, he's going to have to some time to assess the situation and all the emotions wrapped up in that before he makes any decision."

Persecution of religious minorities in the Muslim country remains a problem, Barrans said. Hundreds of Christians are arrested, detained for months and then released without formal charges "as an intimidation tactic," she said.

As an ordained minister, Nadarkhani led a network of house churches in Iran.

He was arrested in 2009 after he lodged a protest with local education officials after learning his child was being forced to read from the Quran, the Muslim holy book, in school.

He was charged with apostasy and convicted in a provincial court - which sentenced him to death.

He appealed, and during a trial in a lower court, refused to recant his beliefs.

The case made its way to the Supreme Court, which said Nadarkhani's sentence could be overturned if he recanted. The pastor refused.

On Saturday, he was released by a trial court in the Gilan Province, Barrans said. The pastor had been held in Lakan prison in the same province, she said. Nadarkhani is from the province's city of Rasht.

Even though the constitution of Iran - a predominantly Shiite Muslim country - guarantees equality to members of religious minorities, that has not been the case in practice.

And while apostasy is not an offense codified in Iranian law, converts from Islam often face the death penalty, Amnesty International said.

Persecution has increased since Iran's disputed presidential election in 2009, with Baha'is, Christian converts and even Sunni Muslims bearing the brunt.

In April 2010, the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom reported a rise in church raids and harassment of worshippers by Iranian authorities.

And Amnesty International, in a report released earlier this year, said "repeated calls by the Supreme Leader and other authorities to combat "false beliefs" - apparently an allusion to evangelical Christianity, Baha'ism and Sufism - appear to have led to an increase in religious persecution."

In February, the White House issued a pointed statement in the Nadarkhani case, strongly condemning the reports of an execution order.

"This action is yet another shocking breach of Iran's international obligations, its own constitution, and stated religious values," the statement said. "The United States stands in solidarity with Pastor Nadarkhani, his family, and all those who seek to practice their religion without fear of persecution - a fundamental and universal human right. "

From small churches to large organizations, Nadarkhani's case has galvanized American Christians.

The Voice of the Martyrs, an organization that monitors and attempts to assist with persecuted and minority churches around the world, has closely followed Nadarkhani's case and other developments involving Christians in Iran.

But the issue has not been solely spearheaded by Christian groups; Muslim organizations have also been vocal about condemning Iran.

The American Center for Law and Justice - a group "specifically dedicated to the ideal that religious freedom and freedom of speech are inalienable, God-given rights" - was asked by the pastor's lawyers last year to help publicize Nadarkhani's case, according to Jodran Sekulow, executive director of the group.

The ACLJ organized a Twitter campaign called "Tweet for Youcef."

The group says the campaign has been reaching more than 2.5 million Twitter accounts in 234 countries and territories around the globe each day.

In March, the U.S. House of Representatives passed on a 417-1 vote a resolution condemning Iran for imprisoning Nadarkhani, while calling for his immediate release.

In a letter posted May 30 on Voice of the Martyrs website, Nadarkhani seemed a bit taken aback by all the attention his case was garnering and by those using it for political purposes.

"I want to appreciate all those (who) are trying to reach this goal," he said. "At the end I hope my freedom will be prepared as soon as possible ..."

CNN's Dan Merica and Ed Payne contributed to this report.

 

- shirleyhenrycnn

Filed under: Christianity • Iran

soundoff (791 Responses)
  1. American Atheist

    Look dude, we hate you and ALL Christians in this country. Die already and take the rest of the Christians with you.

    September 9, 2012 at 1:48 am |
    • steve

      You hate? For what reason?

      September 9, 2012 at 1:52 am |
    • Major Tom

      Nice try, troll. Only a religious wackjob talks like this, not an atheist.

      September 9, 2012 at 1:53 am |
    • bigg

      Nice to know that you're "enlighted" one here.

      September 9, 2012 at 1:55 am |
    • Parrot Puss McGill

      I dont hate anybody.
      $5.00 bucks on the Lion.

      September 9, 2012 at 3:26 pm |
  2. thinksense1

    Thank you God! Yay!

    September 9, 2012 at 1:47 am |
    • Mohammad

      It was Allah who showed mercy on this misguided man, not your god.

      September 9, 2012 at 1:51 am |
  3. DNC

    Any way you look at it, he should be admired for sticking to his convictions, even after threats of death. Bravo!

    September 9, 2012 at 1:41 am |
    • christianalways

      Awesome! This is the BEST response I have read so far DNC!!!!!

      September 9, 2012 at 1:43 am |
  4. Charlotte, North Carolina

    God Bless you brother from NC. Keep the Faith and Hold up the Blood Stained Banner for Christ.

    September 9, 2012 at 1:40 am |
  5. Minoa

    @ atheists bashing religion – The problem is not religion. The U.S. and other stable “western” countries have many religions and we get along just fine. Countries like Iran and Pakistan have one main problem...lack of a freely elected representative government, and along with that lack of laws, enforcement, and courts that back human rights like freedom of religion (for ALL faiths) and freedom of speech. A second big problem is nuclear weapons in the hands of oppressive governments...it complicates any change in government. THOSE problems are the main things that give the extremists there any credibility with the public. The form of government is the root problem, not religion. Those of you bashing religion are forgetting the vast killings perpetrated by other oppressors that happened to be avowed atheists, for example: Mao Zedong (China), Stalin (USSR), Pol Pot (Cambodia), Kim Sung (N Korea), Mengistu Haile Mariam (Ethiopia). These guys make Muslim jihadists look like mere playground bullies. The problem is not Islam, or any other religion. I am told there are many Muslims here in the US that are kind neighbors, and proud Americans that treasure freedom of religion for everybody.

    September 9, 2012 at 1:39 am |
    • DickPerry

      Well, its not your problem what government they have. They choosed it instead of a puppet dictator who US and UK installed. And i haven't seen any oppressive country use any nuclear weapon against anyone. The nuclear weapon seem to be working as a protection from USA and other countries that might want to over throw their government. Actually the only country i know of using a nuclear weapon is USA. They used it against 2 civilian cities which today would been the biggest terror acts ever. And what a country says and does is usually two different things. I've seen lots of harsh words from North Korea. But i haven't seen them doing anything. So whats the problem? Are you afraid of everything you don't understand?

      September 9, 2012 at 1:49 am |
    • Marky Merlot

      I beg to differ; religion has become a problem in the US, at least in the last few decades. It has infected the political system, whereby no atheist, could ever seriously consider, running for political office, and stand a chance of winning.
      You have to wear your religious stripes on your sleeve (or at least pretend to), and then risk ridicule (particularly, by the extreme right-wing), if your religion does not "suit".
      Most western nations' politicians, play down any religious affiliations. Remember, Tony Bliar(mis-spelling intended), was famously counselled about postponing his conversion from Anglican to Roman Catholisism, until AFTER his resignation, so as not to irritate, a public, already angered by his involving the UK, in the Iraq war..

      September 9, 2012 at 1:52 am |
    • End Religion

      @minoa: fallacious "guilt by association" argument. google "reductio ad absurdum" These people did not kill in the name of atheism, while Christians did during the Crusades kill in the name of their god, and extremist Muslims do kill in the name of theirs. Muslims want to live under Sharia law, so wile governments may not be perfect, the presence of religion is indeed the problem.

      September 9, 2012 at 2:32 am |
  6. jack

    What do the "holy" bible and the Quran have in common? They are both filled with contradictions, lies and a lot of b*ll s*it myths. The world would be better off if we collected all that trash and set it ablaze in one big fire.

    September 9, 2012 at 1:34 am |
    • Jesus is Lord

      Hey Jack I can't speak for the Quran, but I can speak for the Bible, there no contridictions in it...I believe you are speaking of rumors...I would just suggest you read it, start with Romans.

      September 9, 2012 at 1:39 am |
    • AlienShark

      I am speaking in facts. The book we call the Bible today contains nothing from the original revelations in their original languages. Furthermore, the Biblical scholars agree unanimously that verses have been added and subtracted by men. It is also widely known that the concept of trinities, gods having children and god incarnate came from Greco Roman mythology and was mixed with the teachings of Moses and Jesus more than a hundred years after Jesus. These are all indisputable facts.

      September 9, 2012 at 1:40 am |
    • AlienShark

      JIL, the One God I amspeaking of is the one that you probably call God the Father. I believe in Moses native tongue he was called EL. In the Aramaic language of Jesus he was called Ellah, and in arabic he is called Allah.

      September 9, 2012 at 1:42 am |
    • Major Tom

      @Jesus the Lord You've obviously never read the Bible. Not cover-to-cover anyway.

      September 9, 2012 at 1:48 am |
    • Parfin Woodell

      the Bible, there no contridictions in it...

      You got about three hours ?
      Lets start with two versions of genesis..........

      September 9, 2012 at 3:29 pm |
  7. dr. livingstone

    To God be credit
    ..
    Deo est Deo est Deo

    September 9, 2012 at 1:34 am |
    • End Religion

      crazy is deluded is insane

      September 9, 2012 at 2:34 am |
  8. TheBob

    Iran's regime is exactly the type of government that the Christian Far Right in this country secretly wish they had here. One that would have the power to sentence to death anyone who spoke out against Christianity, Jesus, the Bible, and all the other bullcrap that Christianity at one time was able to ram down people's throats. Religions – all of them – in their core, are evil. It's just that fortunately, in the Western world, they almost never get their way.

    September 9, 2012 at 1:33 am |
    • dano

      It's not for lack of trying. The Christian Right have been trying their damnedest to install just such a regime in this country since the 1980s. It's a good thing that most Americans pretty much blow off the Bible without even realizing it. Hell, they don't even know what's in it. If they did, America would be a 90% atheist nation.

      September 9, 2012 at 1:44 am |
  9. Gary

    Jesus death redeemed the entire world once and for all. Now there is no excuse when you reject him you reject the price that was paid to put you back into a right relationship with God. Most of you will reject this statement but I mainly stated it in obedience to preach the Gospel of the good news of Jesus Christ. I'm only responsible for telling you, I'm not responsible for saving your soul. I am more than willing to be a fool for Christ. After all it was he who said "I am the way, the truth and the life, NO man comes to the father except through me" because Jesus has been given the authority by God to save you or cast you into the lake of fire. Interestingly enough, you can e chat hateful comments and harsh opinions but remember this one thing. You are dying as we speak and in fact if you don't know Christ you are already spiritually dead. Repent by turning from your sin of independence from God and become dependent upon him for your every need. It was Jesus who said "you must be born again not of flesh and blood but of the spirit" "God is Spirit". May all your troubles bring you to a point of hopeless desperation I pray.

    September 9, 2012 at 1:31 am |
    • Major Tom

      The whole Jesus sacrifice is the biggest scam ever perpetrated on human beings.

      September 9, 2012 at 1:35 am |
    • therealpeace2all

      @Gary

      " May all your troubles bring you to a point of hopeless desperation I pray. " 😯

      Er... gee... thanks for the well-wishes there, Gary.

      Peace...

      September 9, 2012 at 1:35 am |
    • redzoa

      Two thoughts: 1st, an old joke. An Inuit hunter asks the Missionary, "So if I don't know about God and sin, then I wouldn't go to hell?" The Missionary replies, "Well, that's correct." The Inuit hunter replies, "Then why are you telling me?"

      2nd, loosely from Thomas Paine. If an adult hit a baseball and smashed your window, the remedy would be to pay for fixing the window. We would find no problem if it was the adult's child who actually paid to fix the window on the parent's behalf. However, if an adult murdered someone, no one would accept that the murderer's child should, or even could, take on their parent's deserved punishment for the crime. Yet this latter morally-flawed concept underlies the entire notion of original sin. Likewise, it is equally absurd that a sacrificial lamb, devoid of any culpability should or could absolve the crimes of those actually guilty of the crimes.

      September 9, 2012 at 2:00 am |
    • End Religion

      @redzoa: thx for that post!

      September 9, 2012 at 3:57 am |
    • End Religion

      @gary: you may want to go ahead and get bandages. I am going to ream you. I will start slowly though, in the hope you can enjoy it until i really begin to thrust my points home.

      September 9, 2012 at 3:57 am |
    • End Religion

      ***
      "Jesus death redeemed the entire world once and for all."

      no he didn't.

      ***
      "Now there is no excuse when you reject him"

      there is an excuse: i reject him because i do not believe in him. Gary, you're making this too easy.

      ***
      "you reject the price that was paid to put you back into a right relationship with God"

      I was never in any relationship with god. It was never "right" and I certainly couldn't be put "back" into something I was never in to begin with.

      ***
      "Most of you will reject this statement"

      Yes, many of us present are sane enough to do so...

      ***
      " but I mainly stated it in obedience to preach the Gospel of the good news of Jesus Christ"

      Here is your most factual statement so far, though not perfect since I don't find jesus's news so good. But i will grant you are obedient and you do preach. Congrats. However now that you've shown a smidgen of lucidity i can only assume your thorazine is wearing off. please dose again.

      ***
      "I'm only responsible for telling you, I'm not responsible for saving your soul."

      Check. Check.

      ***
      "I am more than willing to be a fool for Christ. After all it was he who said "I am the way, the truth and the life, NO man comes to the father except through me""

      You don't need to be a fool, Gary. You simply look at the evidence, gather up a bit of courage and say "you know what, this doesn't make sense, and i refuse to live in fear of a 'loving' jealous god. i deserve better than to cower in fear of retribution due to his lacking receipt of attention. i am indeed special and am not a slave to anyone or anything, i do not believe in god."

      And Dr. Seuss said "i do not like green eggs and ham. i do not like them, sam i am." Doesn't really make the words special just cuz he said them and they were put into a book. The words are fun, sure, but living your life around them? And if you feel you must build your life around some words in a book, why not choose Dr. Seuss? At least we know for sure he wrote the words. Green Eggs and Ham wasn't passed down through word of mouth for generations before printed. You claim to live by "truth" yet you base that on a book that can't, by any stretch of imagination, have been the words that were supposedly spoken by your god. Your life is based on the lies of men. Why not base it on the truth of Seuss instead, and rest assured that at least you are living the truth of Seuss' almighty rhyming words. Remember, in the end he said, "i do like them, sam i am. I do like green eggs and ham." So its a positive message you could keep spreading.

      ***
      " because Jesus has been given the authority by God to save you or cast you into the lake of fire."

      this part always confuses me somewhat. Why would he need to give himself authority to do something? Doesn't sound all powerful enough to me. And you don't mention the holy ghost.... Did the holy ghost need to be given authority or would he get a pass because the son was given it? Wouldn't the son need to give the holy ghost authority before any of the 3 could act? I mean we can't assume the holy ghost has authority, especially if the son didn't have it to begin with, even though he's supposedly a part of that whole trinity thing. But he's left out of the equation. Can you explain?

      I know details and facts and stuff can get in the way when it comes to religion, so maybe we can come back to that one...

      I think i understand the rest. Jesus, who claims to be all about love, is possibly going to torture me for eternity because i missed the memo on his whole shtick. His reason for all of creation, The Game of Getting Into Heaven, of which rules he set forth in books not in english but in a language i don't know, but which have been graciously interpreted for me through various other languages and collected into one book but then had parts ripped out by men, then re-added and re-interpreted by men over a few thousand years, and in which he doesn't exactly spell out success literally (or maybe does depending on which version of his rules we might follow), and which rules are to this day so confusing we likely need current day interpreters called Priests or Ministers to help us try to understand said rules even though they were initially written by a supernatural being who doesn't make mistakes. Then he waterboards us in a lake of fire for eternity for not following these simple rules. The simple rules he infallibly created. Does this sound about right?

      ***
      "Interestingly enough, you can e chat hateful comments and harsh opinions but remember this one thing. You are dying as we speak and in fact if you don't know Christ you are already spiritually dead."

      You don't know him either. You read some fiction about him and it resonated with you. Any experience you feel you had that "brought you closer" is called a delusion. He never existed. You're dreadfully frightened of the seemingly improbable likeliness of your birth, and you can't grasp that death is the end for you, so you mix magic into it to soothe the fear and smooth over the gaps in your knowledge. I'm not bashing you here. You're far from alone in this situation. But you can come to your senses and begin to deal with reality.

      ***
      "Repent by turning from your sin of independence from God and become dependent upon him for your every need."

      How about a little responsibility for your own actions? You're worse than a lawless teenager who blames everything on a lack of love from mother.

      ***
      "It was Jesus who said "you must be born again not of flesh and blood but of the spirit" "God is Spirit"."

      man i'm glad your post is almost done. You're tiring. As the great Porky Pig once said, "a-badea a-badea a-badea, that's all, folks!"

      ***
      "May all your troubles bring you to a point of hopeless desperation I pray."

      And so it ends with typical religious arrogance and hypocrisy. Preach love but really deliver fear. Why would you wish trouble and hopelessness on anyone? Would jesus wish trouble on people? And why would you end it with praying for an outcome? Shouldn't you just say "god's will be done"? Aren't you being arrogant by trying to persuade god to bring about your wish? The bible, and your god, demand humblesness and not such arrogance. You've defied your god. Go ask forgiveness.

      September 9, 2012 at 4:01 am |
    • Parfin Woodell

      Your church tells me Jesus died for my sins.
      Then, your church tells me i am born with sin.
      Tell them to get back to me when they make up thier minds.

      September 9, 2012 at 3:31 pm |
  10. ishmael

    Aww, they didn't have a chance to say Allah Akbar

    September 9, 2012 at 1:29 am |
    • Parfin Woodell

      Allah snakbar.

      September 9, 2012 at 3:31 pm |
  11. AlienShark

    If you saw the original followers of Jesus (the church of James) you would think they were Muslims. Only after Jesus did Paul mix Judaism and the teachings of Jesus with Greek mythology with gods having sons and trinities is when people started to pray to Jesus or believe that he was some god or son of God or part of a trinity. Paul and the Romans successfully killed off the real followers of Jesus who only prayed to One God as prescribed in the real Torah, the real Gospel and the Qur'an. After that, Rome implemented it's homemade ideology onto the people and thus modern Christianity was born. Now we have people praying to Jesus instead of the One God and people claiming these attributes to God,such as being part of a trinity, that he doesn't claim about himself. May He guide us all to the Straight Path.

    September 9, 2012 at 1:28 am |
    • Jesus is Lord

      Who is this One God you are speak of? What is his name and when did Rome kill anything...the Bible is still here. It has been proven and tested for ages. However the Quran has never been examine to the degree that the Bible has? Why is that? It is a rule book...with no Savior.

      September 9, 2012 at 1:34 am |
    • AlienShark

      I am speaking in facts. The book we call the Bible today contains nothing from the original revelations in their original languages. Furthermore, the Biblical scholars agree unanimously that verses have been added and subtracted by men. It is also widely known that the concept of trinities, gods having children and god incarnate came from Greco Roman mythology and was mixed with the teachings of Moses and Jesus more than a hundred years after Jesus. These are all indisputable facts.

      September 9, 2012 at 1:39 am |
    • AlienShark

      JIL, the One God I am speaking of is the one that you probably call God the Father. I believe in Moses native tongue he was called EL. In the Aramaic language of Jesus he was called Ellah, and in Arabic he is called Allah.

      September 9, 2012 at 1:43 am |
    • Parfin Woodell

      the Bible is still here. It has been proven and tested for ages.

      By who ?
      The people who are shoving it down your throat ?
      Yup, that works well.

      September 9, 2012 at 3:35 pm |
  12. Fabio

    I would like to see Muslims living in occidental countries protesting against this and prosecution against Christians in countries where Christians are a minority!

    September 9, 2012 at 1:24 am |
  13. R22

    I didn't know Manu Ginobili was a christian.

    September 9, 2012 at 1:20 am |
    • therealpeace2all

      @R22

      LOL... That's so wrong !

      Peace...

      September 9, 2012 at 1:23 am |
    • Please do not be ignorant!

      As I read through many of these posts, it really saddens me of how many ignorant people are out there.
      Some of these laws enforced by the Iranian government, has nothing to do with Islamic teachings. Islam forbids forcing people to practice any religion that they don’t believe in. Some of you are falling for the ignorance trap. Learn the facts, before you waste CNN’s reader’s time with your ignorant comments.it is not about Islam vs. Christianity. Grow up. Iran is a dictatorship. The action of the government does not reflect the true feelings of the Iranian people.

      September 9, 2012 at 1:47 am |
  14. Name*moses jiji

    My take on this is that youcef just hold your peace our God will never allow you to be kill he that firth for Daniel will firth for just keep your faith

    September 9, 2012 at 1:17 am |
    • christianalways

      My thoughts are many of these comments are no different than those from the so called righteous ones..call them Muslims, Christians, Atheists or Satinists..all extreme beliefs and degradation is simply wrong!!

      September 9, 2012 at 1:34 am |
  15. tarya

    All of Iran will now convert to Christianity. We can follow a man like this pastor or an iman like the man that pretended Christians were burning qurans.

    September 9, 2012 at 1:17 am |
  16. Jesus is Lord

    Herman Munster I believe you are correct. It would seem since we have leaders who believe its okay to be an atheist that all followers (mockers) would follow suit...It takes courage and strength to stand for something when others pick and laugh at you...the Bible states only a remnant will make it to heaven.
    I believe as a Christian this is a good sign. This means more fake Christian will hopefully stop hidden in churches and stop calling themselves Christian. Why? You can help a crack head when they say, “I need help”, but you can’t help a crack head who believe he is okay. These people are liars, thieves, adultery, and sinners’ unsaved people who bring corruption into the church.
    It’s an insult to me as a Christian to have fake preachers and other non-believers like Obama and others saying they believe in god…what? Obama and others liars like Joel Olsten don’t have the capability or the strength to stand for something that is not laying prediction. The world getting better (poverty, crime, inflation, death, disease, etc.) while the country is crumbing because it lacks integrity and morality.

    September 9, 2012 at 1:14 am |
    • christianalways

      As a Christian attending a private Christian school I have witnessed how so-called Christians are very quick to become cult like in their mentality, same mentality as all extremists. Always pointing fingers and ready to judge

      September 9, 2012 at 1:28 am |
    • christianalways

      You are really no different than the extremists and please do not use the name Jesus is Lord as you do not speak for all Christians and your judgements are yours, not Gods

      September 9, 2012 at 1:36 am |
    • Parfin Woodell

      to have fake preachers and other non-believers like Obama .....

      And you know Obama is a fake ?
      You just passed judgement on another human being, and that is a sin.

      You FAIL.

      September 9, 2012 at 3:47 pm |
  17. SNAPPA

    Ahh, religion how nice. They should all be banned and the population should face deep deprogramming. These cults will be the end of us all. Sometines I think thats just the way they want it.

    September 9, 2012 at 1:10 am |
    • christianalways

      Uggggg...as a human being, as a Christian I am sick and tired of all of the so called holy wars. Whatever God we worship is looking upon those who profess to worship and ashamed of these people. Wow..how can someone be jailed for their faith in God. If the people of other faiths in North America were treated as non-Muslims in Iran a quarter of the population would be in jail!

      September 9, 2012 at 1:17 am |
    • christianalways

      Sadly I somewhat agree with you. Hey..I am a devout Christian and by Christian I mean I treat others with respect and do not judge others. I do however believe extremists should not be allowed in North America. Why are people so hateful and ignorant??

      September 9, 2012 at 1:24 am |
    • Mark

      Amen brother!....LOL!

      September 9, 2012 at 1:24 am |
    • Hammerdown

      Ahh, religion how nice. They should all be banned and the population should face deep deprogramming.

      Sounds like Hitler.

      September 9, 2012 at 3:50 pm |
  18. Alan

    Does anyone doubt that Iran and the entire Middle East would be a lot more humane place if its population did not profess faith in Islam? Furthermore, does anyone doubt for a second that these countries would not be medieval dictatorships if their population was Christian or Jewish, or Buddhist, anything other than Islam.

    Islam is a problem – an 800 pound gorilla in the room which many people refuse to recognize.

    Death, violence, poverty, oppression and persecution will be the lot of Muslims so long as they remain ... Muslims.

    September 9, 2012 at 1:07 am |
    • Jeffision

      It's the concept of "religion" that's the problem.

      September 9, 2012 at 1:26 am |
    • clint

      @Alan – right on.

      September 9, 2012 at 1:33 am |
    • christianalways

      Soooo...what do we do with the North Americans that continue to murder each other that are not Muslims..that continue to use their guns simply because they can?

      September 9, 2012 at 1:41 am |
  19. beinspired5

    Another biased story against Iran. Shouldn't we be just happy that this poor guy got his freedom finally and worry about our own problems?

    September 9, 2012 at 12:59 am |
    • christianalways

      Iran is corrupt and primitive in their beliefs and ignorant of the world around them. Any country or religion that allows another to be jailed for their beliefs or thoughts is as evil as satan, not Muslim, only corrupt and ignorant

      September 9, 2012 at 1:08 am |
    • Center Of The Universe

      God gave you one planet.
      Clean up your mess.
      You wont be getting another one.

      September 9, 2012 at 3:51 pm |
  20. solomon

    AMERICANS THINK JUST BECAUSE THEY SUPPORT ISRAEL AND SEND MISSIONARIES OVERSEAS THEY ARE A CHRISTIAN NATION. DO NOT FOOL YOUR SELF.LOOK AT THIS PASTOR THIS IS WHAT A TRUE CHRISTIANITY IS. HE NEVER COMPLAINED WHY HE IS JAILED OR CAN'T PREACH HIS RELIGION IN HIS COUNTRY. YOU KNOW WHAT? BECAUSE HE KNOWS WHAT A TRUE CHRISTIANITY IS.

    September 9, 2012 at 12:57 am |
    • mp

      I agree

      September 9, 2012 at 1:22 am |
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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.