Evangelical Pastor Faces Imminent Execution in Iran

We get involved in our own discussions and sometimes miss that others need our help. In about eight or nine hours, Pastor Yousef Nadarkhania, a convert to Christianity from the Muslim faith is scheduled for execution for apostasy. The story follows below (Google has more). Meanwhile, you can encourage Pres. Obama to intervene here, or encourage Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to intervene at 202-647-4000.

Christians are persecuted around the world all the time, a fact that the Russian Orthodox Church, to their credit, is confronting internationally. Making ourselves aware of this story is a good first step in waking up to how serious the persecution really is.

Sign the petition supporting Pastor Youself. See the Christian Solidarity website.

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Source: The Washington Post | By

Working to save the life of a Christian pastor in Iran

A week ago, Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani was a relatively unknown Christian facing execution for his faith under Iran’s interpretation of Sharia law. Few people knew his name, and almost no one was aware of the fate that awaited him. His only hope was and still is an immense amount of international pressure on the Iranian government to prevent the first apostate execution in Iran in over twenty years.

Earlier this week, the 11th branch of Iran’s Gilan Provincial Court, on remand from the Iranian Supreme Court, determined that Pastor Nadarkhani has Islamic ancestry and therefore must recant his faith in Jesus Christ or die. Nadarkhani was to be given three opportunities to recant his face, and if he refused face execution.

Each time he was ordered to recant his faith in Jesus Christ, he refused, stating, “I cannot.”

Working with Nadarkhani’s Muslim attorney, contacts on the ground in Iran, American media, and congressional leaders, the ACLJ began aggressively working to highlight his situation and call for a public outcry and international pressure from the U.S. on Nadarkhani’s behalf.

Our attorneys have literally worked around the clock in an effort to save Pastor Youcef’s life, appearing on CBN and the 700 Club, as well as other media outlets.

The Washington Post was the first mainstream media outlet to cover the story, right here on this blog. Soon after, Fox News and CNN ran their own stories, at which point Nadarkhani’s story spread like wildfire on social media.

As Pastor Firouz Sadegh-Khandjani, a Member of the Council of Elders for the Church of Iran and a close personal friend of Nadarkhani, told me on my radio show, Iran’s “Constitution makes it clear . . . that Christians have the right to accept their faith,” but Christian face “a religious apartheid because the tendency is not to respect the rights of minorities, minorities are not considered citizens, it is worse than apartheid because in apartheid it was written that we have apartheid, but in Iran it is not written . . . but legally we are in apartheid.”

As this news began to spread, Congressional leaders began to react.

Speaker of the the House John Boehner released a statement calling for Nadarkhani’s “full and unconditional release,” noting that Iran’s actions “are distressing for people of every country and creed.” Representative James Lankford (OK-5) joined that call, noting, “Faith cannot be detained or controlled by a dictatorial regime, … a regime that falsely believes that they determine the rights they will permit for their own people.” Representative Randy Forbes (VA-4), Chairman of the Prayer Caucus, reiterated, “We in America who enjoy the fundamental human right of religious freedom must demand Nadarkhani’s full and unconditional release.” Representative Trent Franks (AZ-2) issued a strong statement: “I appeal to whatever semblance of humanity may remain in the hearts of Iran’s leaders and urge the Obama administration to make it clear, through every channel possible, that such grievous human rights abuses will not stand.”

The White House has also released a statement calling “upon the Iranian authorities to release Pastor Nadarkhani, and demonstrate a commitment to basic, universal human rights, including freedom of religion.”

This level of pressure on Iran is a major victory.

And it is having an effect.Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani’s attorney in Iran, Mohammad Ali Dadkhah told the ALCJ that at the end of the final hearing on Wednesday, three of the five judges appeared to be leaning toward annulling Pastor Youcef’s sentence.

However, the death sentence still stands, and recognizing that the judges’ decision is not final and may be swayed by outside pressure before delivering the final verdict, Pastor Youcef’s attorney urges the international community to continue to cry out for his client’s unconditional release until he is released from prison.

That is exactly what we are doing, calling on Secretary of State Clinton and other high-profile American leaders to take direct action to save this pastor’s life.

Please continue to pray for Nadarkhani, his family, and his attorney.

You can help Nadarkhani by utilizing one of the various social media tools provided by the Washington Post below to share this article with your networks.


  1. Geo Michalopulos :

    Let us cease our bickering and pray for this man.

  2. When asked to “repent” by the Judges, Youcef stated, “Repent means to return. What should I return to? To the blasphemy that I had before my faith in Christ?” The judges replied, “To the religion of your ancestors, Islam.” To which he replied, “I cannot.”

    May the Lord keep him strong in his faith!

    “If it is possible, one should rather die a thousand times, than deny the faith in Christ for a few more years on earth.” This is what the hundreds of millions of Christian martyrs did since the time of the Apostles: rather die than deny the faith in Christ.

    The Saints Brancoveni Icon

    The family were allowed to say one last prayer, after which the Sultan offered them their lives if they accepted to convert to mahomedanism. Del Chiaro noted the Voivode’s reply:

    “Your Highness. My wealth, as much as it was, you have taken it from me, but my Christian faith is something I will not relinquish. I have been born in it and I have lived in it, it is in my faith that I shall die. I have filled the land of my country with Christian churches and now, you would have me worship in your Turkish djamies? No, Your Highness. I have defended my land, I have watched over my faith. It is always in my faith that I wish to close my eyes, me and my sons.” Then he encouraged his sons thus: “My sons, be brave. We have lost everything we had in this earthly world. All we have left is our souls. Let us not lose them, too, but bring them pure before our Saviour Jesus Christ. Let’s wash our sins with our blood.”

    The Sultan gave the signal for the execution. The first who was decapitated was treasurer Ianache Văcărescu, followed by the Voivode’s four sons: Constantin, Ştefan, Radu, and then the youngest one, Matei (11). Horrified by his brothers’ death, the small one got scared and faltered. His father told him: “There has never been anyone in our family who lost their faith. If it is possible, one should rather die a thousand times, than deny the faith of his ancestors, for a few years more on earth”. Then the child put his head on the stock and said to the executioner: “I want to die a Christian. Strike.” Petrified with pain, the Voivode murmured: “Lord, Thy will be done”, after which they beheaded him, too.

  3. Wesley J. Smith :

    I spoke at a conference this morning at which the famous author of Dead Man Walking, Sr. Helen Prejean was also speaking. I had a moment with her just before the start of proceedings and found she was unaware of the pending execution of Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani in Iran for apostasy–which tells you how little the MSM has cared about this issue. She immediately dictated this plea on my Blackberry, which appeared on my Twitter page @forcedexit:

    “To Iranian people: Stop execution Youcef Nadarkhani. It demeans life of all to kill a man for his faith.”

    Let us hope the Iranian Government listens.

  4. Today (October 2, 2011) Iran changed the reason it plans to execute Pastor Yousef Nadarkhania. Iran now says he committed rape in Iran. I guess Iran feels that reason better justifies its decision to execute him than its original reason of failing to renounce his Christian faith.

    Conclusion: Iran will say or do whatever is necessary to “justify” its illegal and barbaric actions.

  5. “You can’t kill a Christian. You can only change his address,” reads a quote from Pastor Duke Downs that was posted my Voice of the Martyrs.

    U.S. support for Iranian pastor continues to grow By Dan Merica, CNN


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