Wife of imprisoned pastor speaks out
March 28th, 2013
05:26 PM ET

Wife of imprisoned pastor speaks out

By Sherisse Pham, CNN

(CNN)–His children cry out for him. His wife wonders about his “survival battle.”

Such is the struggle of the family of an American pastor recently sentenced in Iran to eight years in prison for his Christian beliefs.

The couple's two children "miss him terribly. They cry, they ask for him," wife Naghmeh Abedini says. "They're struggling every day."

Her husband Saeed Abedini, a U.S. citizen of Iranian birth, was arrested and charged in Iran last June during a visit. Abedini, 32, converted to Christianity from Islam and then became a pastor, living in Boise, Idaho. He has reportedly been detained in Tehran's notorious Evin Prison since late September. In the Islamic Republic of Iran, a Muslim who converts to another faith can face the death penalty.

"They've charged him with Christian gatherings, and they're saying it is a threat to the national security," Naghmeh Abedini said.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Christianity • Iran • Middle East

soundoff (69 Responses)
  1. In celebration of the resurrection of Christ

    Thank you Jesus !

    March 31, 2013 at 6:38 am |
  2. Dave8582

    Well, Mom always said, "If you can't do the time, don't do the crime".

    Or, "So much for Jesus taking care of His own. LOL.

    Tell me, how would this outcome be different, if there were no Jesus?


    March 29, 2013 at 4:38 pm |
  3. mzh

    Islam never teaches to force any individual to be Muslim... its very clear that let the person chose whatever he/she wants to be... as one of the verses in Quran states addressing to prophet Muhammad pbuh as "indeed you do not guide to Islam but Allah guides whomever He will and whomever seeks for guidance"... even when prophet pbuh migrated to the city of Medina, he found that the jews and christians lives there and he never forced them to accept Islam and examples could go on and on...

    If there is law of land which prevents its citizen not to convert and if someone converts to certain religion and they will be arrested, then i guess one should not go there thinking of this law of the land... every country has federal laws and not every country has same laws... like Pakistan has a law for which a little girl was arrested... and i have heard some judge got killed by extrimists when he was talking against this law...

    It is very unfortunate in my opinion that an individual was born and raised as a Muslim to believe and enjoy the Oneness of The Almighty and later for some worldly benefits (i don't know if there was any but most probably there was there was) makes them accepts the teaching of polythism... i pray for the entire mankind...

    I hope everyone will be educated to live with peace in a same neighbor regardless of an individual's faith...

    March 29, 2013 at 1:58 pm |
    • STFU

      mzh@, you sound like a good law abiding muslim, but you need to sometime here on BB, challenge your muslim brother Mohammad A. Dar from Pakistan posts under ISLAM FOUNDATION OF........ to prove what you say is what you mean.

      March 30, 2013 at 12:32 am |
    • mzh

      To Dear STFU:

      A person is born in a Muslim family does not make that individual a Muslim unless that individual seeks knowledge and corrects what he/she was taught by his/her parents… unfortunately around the earth there are lots of human born in a Muslim family but they limit themselves within the teaching of their parents which most of the time turns to be incorrect… hopefully below is one of the verses from the Quran will give answer of ur question and will help to open others eyes and get time to educate themselves, and some may come and embraces Islam (I am telling you from my experience)… you never know what you would discover tomorrow which not known/revealed today… I have strong believe about that… The Quran also teaches – every single tiny little atom amount of good or evil you do, will be rewarded either good or bad…

      O you who have believed (addressing Muslim), protect yourselves and your families from a Fire whose fuel is people and stones, over which are [appointed] angels, harsh and severe; they (the angels) do not disobey Allah in what He commands them but do what they are commanded. – 66:6

      April 1, 2013 at 3:08 pm |

      mzh, crook donkey by faith pretending to be Muslim, absurd, Islam, Hebrew teachings or teachings of son of blessed Mary were never about Islam, but truth absolute, not even about prophet Muhammad, so much so, word Islam does not exist in Hebrew language or in holy Quran which you read, but Theen Allah, consti tution of truth absolute, otherwise known as Law of nature in America. Islam was created by corruption of truth absolute to justify hinduism racism and existence of kings and their prophets, fortune tellers as CONSTANTINE, forever man gods of humanity, open your eyes, open to reason of conflict among humanity.

      April 1, 2013 at 10:11 pm |
    • mzh


      Honestly I don't understand what you are trying to say... please listen to yoruself before you post something...

      April 2, 2013 at 12:18 pm |
  4. Bill

    Well, since your faith, and Iran's faith are on the same side of the marriage debate, I don't have much sympathy for you.

    As an atheist, I have to laugh at one delusional cult imprisoning someone for taking up with another delusional cult.

    March 29, 2013 at 12:18 pm |
  5. Over 40,000 denominations of insanity

    Some believe the Pope is the Anti-Christ. Some believe Obama is the Anti-Christ.

    Some believe that celibacy is appropriate for certain people, or for certain positions. It's ridiculous. Celibacy is unnatural and will continue to cause problems for the religious institutions that employ it.

    Many of the people from these same institutions advocate against abortion, but don't understand the realistic benefit of the morning after pill or even basic contraception; their unrealistic wishful thinking is causing the death of many at the hands of disease. Realistically, many abortions could be avoided if a morning-after pill were not viewed as such an evil option. Many of these same people bring children into the world at a high pace, and then would prefer that the rest of society take over and educate their children in their particular brand of religion when they don't plan well.

    In the U.S. recently we learned of the head of Lutheran CMS chastising a minister of that church for participating in a joint service for the victims of the Newtown school shooting.

    One sect calls homosexuality an abomination while the next one in the same denomination is already performing gay marriage.

    One sect, the Westboro Baptist Church believes Americans are being killed at war because America is too kind to "fags".

    One sect believes that Jesus and Satan were brothers and that Christ will return to Jerusalem AND Jackson County, Missouri.

    One sect believes women to be subservient, while another sect in the same denomination promotes equality between the sexes.

    Conflicted and unfounded right from the very beginning, Christianity continues to splinter and create divisions and more extremism as time goes by.

    March 29, 2013 at 11:19 am |
  6. Saraswati

    The only thing as nauseating as the Iranian governments actions are the misrepresentations of the case by CNN with lines like "sentenced in Iran to eight years in prison for his Christian beliefs". If they can't tell crap reporting from good, they shouldn't be in the business.

    March 29, 2013 at 8:26 am |
  7. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer changes things

    March 29, 2013 at 6:13 am |
    • Sensible

      Since when does being rational harm anything, thats like saying not believing in santa or any other fictional character will cause you harm. You may miss out on the pleasure of deluding yourself about reality but thats about it. The only thing prayer does is fool one into thinking it actually works. If it really changed anything of substance the world would be a different place.

      March 29, 2013 at 8:22 am |
    • Jesus

      Prayer does not; you are such a LIAR. You have NO proof it changes anything! A great example of prayer proven not to work is the Christians in jail because prayer didn't work and their children died. For example: Susan Grady, who relied on prayer to heal her son. Nine-year-old Aaron Grady died and Susan Grady was arrested.

      An article in the Journal of Pediatrics examined the deaths of 172 children from families who relied upon faith healing from 1975 to 1995. They concluded that four out of five ill children, who died under the care of faith healers or being left to prayer only, would most likely have survived if they had received medical care.

      The statistical studies from the nineteenth century and the three CCU studies on prayer are quite consistent with the fact that humanity is wasting a huge amount of time on a procedure that simply doesn’t work. Nonetheless, faith in prayer is so pervasive and deeply rooted, you can be sure believers will continue to devise future studies in a desperate effort to confirm their beliefs!

      March 29, 2013 at 9:11 am |
    • Really?

      "Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things"

      That's why the data, has shown that atheists have happier and healthier lives than conservative Christians. Your post is built on a lie!

      March 29, 2013 at 9:15 am |

    Funny, I myself am a Muslim, I don't consider myself to be a terrorist in any way, except I cheer when Christians, Hindu, Jews are locked up in Muslim countries.
    I myself am a Muslim, I don't consider myself to be a terrorist in any way, except I shed tears when my Muslim brothers die in drone attacks.
    I myself am a Muslim, I don't consider myself to be a terrorist in any way, except I wolf-cry louder when my Muslim brothers get locked up in GITMO

    March 28, 2013 at 10:00 pm |
    • Bob1god

      All religions lower IQ !

      March 28, 2013 at 10:47 pm |

    Islam is responsible for lowering the world's average IQ since 610.

    March 28, 2013 at 9:51 pm |
    • Bostontola

      Muslims were the intellectual leaders of the western world from the 8th to the 12th century. Many Greek works were saved and extended by them. After that its been down hill and they currently appear to want to stay behind. They were tolerant of other religions and science was a religious necessity. Too bad they went south.

      March 29, 2013 at 12:12 am |
    • the Rev. Marcus Goodswell

      Arab...not Muslim.... several of those Arab scholars HAD to pay lip service to Islam, but like intellectuals in Europe at the time, they danced on a razor's edge because of the religions that dominated the landscape.

      March 29, 2013 at 2:54 am |
    • mzh

      To Dear BELL CURVE:
      Islam came to the mankind to take the mankind from darkness to light (min al dhulimat ilan noor – Al Quran)... but unfortunately some muslims characters are not being reflected what The Quran is asking them to be... everyone of us will be standing in front of our Lord on that day and everyone of us will be going thru the judgement... i ask The Lord to judge us with His mercy and not with His justice... as if He judges us with His justice no one will escape...

      The mercy is being give in this life for everyone regardless of an individual do... as it is a decree that decreed by HIM that we all human will live this earthly life and every action is being recorded and will be shown on that day... but the mercy on that day will not be for everyone... we ask for His guidance... amin

      April 1, 2013 at 3:19 pm |
  10. Mark

    "If you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved." Romans 10:9 Receive Him as your Lord and Savior if you have not yet done so, and you will know God's forgiveness and peace and joy. God bless

    March 28, 2013 at 9:09 pm |
    • End Religion

      No one is saved. We all go into the ground and that's it. But you know, enjoy your delusion while you're alive. Just keep it to yourself.

      March 28, 2013 at 11:29 pm |
  11. A prayer & a verse for you!

    Isaiah 41:10 fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

    March 28, 2013 at 8:58 pm |
  12. This is injustice

    From prison, Saeed has written letters to his wife. One of them read:

    "Maybe you ask what is the secret of being so happy in such a hard situation? Forgiveness and a change of att itude. When we forgive, we become free and we become messengers of peace and reconciliation and goodness."

    He also wrote of not receiving medical treatment for internal bleeding that he suffered from beatings. Abedini says she is worried he will not survive his prison sentence.

    "Every day is a survival battle, and that's why we've been fighting to get him out as soon as possible," she says. "He's already been there long enough."

    Free the Pastor!!!

    March 28, 2013 at 8:21 pm |
    • Dear Naghmeh

      We will be praying for Pastor Abedini.

      March 28, 2013 at 8:23 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      Is the Christian missionary group that funded this man and sent him to Iraq planning to reimburse the Department of State for all the diplomatic work it is going to take to extricate this foolish man from his inevitable imprisonment?

      March 28, 2013 at 8:26 pm |
    • To the ignorant

      The State Department is committed to ensuring fair and humane treatment for American citizens imprisoned overseas. We stand ready to assist incarcerated citizens and their families within the limits of our authority in accordance with international law.

      March 28, 2013 at 8:32 pm |
    • Free the Pastor


      March 28, 2013 at 8:33 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Other One

      Don't underestimate the usefulness of this man and his situation to the United States. Add it to the portfolio of evidence for a lack of decency in Iranian civilization. Play it for all it's worth. We need to be in the right in the eyes of the world when we finally by God have us a war with those bastards.

      March 28, 2013 at 8:35 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      And the State Department will do everything they can to save this man from his own hubris and stupidity.

      March 28, 2013 at 8:43 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      ... but shouldn't the people who sent this man into this terrible situation have some accountability here?

      You don't need a crystal ball to know that this is exactly what was going to happen.

      It was very irresponsible behavior by whatever missionary organization was behind this.

      March 28, 2013 at 8:45 pm |
    • Ricardo

      not gop...you are the stupid here.

      March 28, 2013 at 8:50 pm |
  13. Liel

    Hope the Pastor can be released and reunited with his family. What is wrong with helping orphans and helping share the love of God with those children? This is cruel.

    March 28, 2013 at 7:36 pm |
    • End Religion

      Sharing religion with kids is child abuse.

      March 28, 2013 at 11:34 pm |
    • mzh

      Absolutely nothing wrong with it... but i think there are international organizations who does this job... in this time i will give them whatever i want to help either poor or orphans but will not put my life in denger... i think this is foolishness that he knew this law as he is from the same land, may be he wanted to challange or something... he himself put him in this situation and now his family, tax payers and the entire country or the world suffering from his silly actions...

      we should learn the lesson from this incident...

      April 1, 2013 at 3:26 pm |
  14. Christianity is a form of SEVERE mental illness

    Perhaps he thought the power of his god would protect him in Iran? Like the wacko who went up to Alaska to live with the grizzlies....SURPRISE he eventually was eaten by one. Iran is backwards and ruthless....and NOT Christian friendly. He knew this and it is hard to really get upset at the fact he is rotting in a prison in Iran. He has faith in his God and should accept where he is at....part of his god's plan. Now move along people.

    March 28, 2013 at 7:09 pm |
    • Dudes

      I laugh at him.

      March 28, 2013 at 7:15 pm |
    • SeanM

      You are a coward and piece of human trash for posting those comments on a message board where no one can see you. If you did anything like this in public, you coward, you would get your worthless head smashed in.

      March 28, 2013 at 7:31 pm |
    • End Religion

      Sean, is that some of your religious love you're sharing?

      March 28, 2013 at 11:35 pm |
    • SeanM

      Yes, ER, you are correct. What I said was a poor example of Christian living. It was out of anger, responding to what dudes said about Pastor Saeed... and his family. And to say what he (dudes) said about a kind, loyal, faithful woman (Naghmeh) and her two innocent kids...when their father is in prison unlawfully...this is totally unacceptable....beyond unacceptable. Cowardly and evil is more like it. And I will not stand for it...now, or ever. I will not judge the man....but I will respond to an attack on the innocent.

      And FYI, I don't believe in religion.....only Jesus Christ.....it is all about Jesus brother.....please look into it.

      March 29, 2013 at 9:25 am |
    • Christianity is a form of SEVERE mental illness

      He is sitting in his cell praying as a good sheep should...perhaps I will answer him? Meanwhile in New Jersey, I answered a man's prayer and hen he won the 338 million dollar jackpot. Iwork in mysterious ways people...do not question...you have free will.....submit or suffer forever.

      Signed Your Loving God

      March 29, 2013 at 3:04 pm |
  15. Dudes

    I am sure this is very dissappointing for him. Back to the ball and chain, that slutty bitch and her two evil side kicks. God help him. Bitches are all the same.

    March 28, 2013 at 6:44 pm |
  16. Salero21

    God will get him out you trailer park rejects.

    March 28, 2013 at 6:28 pm |
  17. I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

    I truly hope this man is released from prison and deported back to Boise.

    But really, what did he expect? Trying to convert people to Christianity in Iran?

    It's not a brave, 'soldier of faith' thing to do. It's imflammatory and stupid. He got exactly what he should have expected to get. Because of his willful stubbornness and stupidity his family suffers and a bunch of diplomats have to spend cycles trying to save him from himself. This is the height of irresponsibility.

    March 28, 2013 at 5:47 pm |
    • clarity

      Agreed. He may as well have become a mercenary somewhere. I do feel badly for his family.

      March 28, 2013 at 6:55 pm |
    • DamianKnight

      Or is it?

      He believes that he is going to preach a message that will save people for eternal damnation. Tell me, if you loved someone, what would you go through to save someone from eternity of pain and suffering?

      March 28, 2013 at 7:04 pm |
    • clarity

      He shouldn't have had any children if he wanted to become knight for lunacy, Knight.

      March 28, 2013 at 7:14 pm |
    • Bill

      "Tell me, if you loved someone, what would you go through to save someone from eternity of pain and suffering?"

      What would you do to save someone from the eternal wrath of the rainbow colored unicorn?

      March 29, 2013 at 12:20 pm |
  18. peace

    Dear Naghmeh
    Our third and prayers are with you and your family, praying that the Pastor will be released soon.

    March 28, 2013 at 5:42 pm |
    • peace

      /thoughts and prayers

      March 28, 2013 at 5:43 pm |
    • hu?


      March 28, 2013 at 5:47 pm |
    • Theo

      If prayers worked this wouldn't have happened in the 1st place

      March 28, 2013 at 6:15 pm |
    • Jospeh

      Joseph was enslaved by the Egyptians – seemed hopeless at the time. And then what happened?

      March 28, 2013 at 6:18 pm |
    • Truther.


      Read the book of James and get back to us.


      March 28, 2013 at 6:45 pm |
    • Christianity is a form of SEVERE mental illness


      Joseph was enslaved by the Egyptians – seemed hopeless at the time. And then what happened?
      Evidence of this?

      March 28, 2013 at 7:01 pm |
    • A Conversation

      @Christianity is a form of SEVERE mental illness...why is it that when their is something in the Bible that atheists like to point out as evidence (you would say) that God is awful, it must be true because and proves that God is awful without further debate, but when something great happens, it can't possibly be true and evidence is demanded?

      March 28, 2013 at 7:13 pm |
    • A Conversation

      bad typo...bad bad typo..."there is"

      March 28, 2013 at 7:13 pm |
  19. Lycidas

    Hopefully one day the whole world will believe in the rights such as "Free Speech" and "Freedom of Religion".

    March 28, 2013 at 5:41 pm |
    • Christianity is a form of SEVERE mental illness

      And then after that someday as a human race we rise above supersti tion

      March 28, 2013 at 7:03 pm |
    • Lycidas

      "And then after that someday as a human race we rise above supersti tion"

      It's more important that the human race rises above making judgements on ppl and their beliefs. Those that belittle other ppl simply because they do not agree are culturally unevolved.

      March 28, 2013 at 7:24 pm |
    • Bill

      People will be allowed free speech the day that mankind becomes free of religion. There is not one religion on earth that does not think it is "right".

      March 29, 2013 at 12:21 pm |
  20. giustina po

    til I looked at the receipt four $5805, I didn't believe ...that...my mom in-law was like actualie taking home money in there spare time on their computer.. there great aunt has been doing this for under 15 months and recently took care of the dept on their apartment and purchased a great new Ariel Atom. go to.......... BIT40. ℂOℳ

    March 28, 2013 at 5:30 pm |
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About this blog

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.