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 … Continued

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.


Jordan Sekulow and Matthew Clark Jordan Sekulow is executive director of the American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ). Matthew Clark is an attorney at the ACLJ. Follow them on Twitter: @JordanSekulow and @_MatthewClark.
  • dmm1

    The people of Iran need their hearts changed.

  • faithinwaco

    well and to think that i was worried about nothing and everything. I am praying for his release and that God performs a miracle, but just like shadrach, meshach and abednego, if God choses to deliver He will and if not, they still chose to serve and not bow down to the other gods. I am honored and humbled by this pastor’s faith in Christ and pray i am never have to go through what he is. my prayers are with him and his family and that justice for the righteous is served here. i pray for a quick release.


    Can you report on how other Christians in Iran and how the head of the church there is responding to this matter? If we believe what Jesus is credited with saying this is but a foretaste of the unprecedented persecution believers in Christ will experience as the return of Christ draws near. Maranatha.


    Tragic as this will be should he be executed, if the words recorded as being spoken by Jesus, “you will be hated by all nations because of me,” are true, this is but a foretaste and sign of what is coming. Maranatha!

  • carol2050

    Are all of you Muslims?

  • carol2050

    Are all of you running this publication Muslims?

  • carol2050

    Jesus is the only bearer of truth. He promises all true believers eternal life. He promises Hell to all who deny Him and His position as judge of all of earth.. He will protect all of us who have faith in all He stands for. He died for my sins and He would cover your sins if you only profess His goodness and repent of your sins. You will need to learn to treat all people with respect and not just those who are nice to you. The greatest feat is to treat your enemies gently.

  • siylencedogood

    May God watch over him and protect him, grant him the strength and will to stand til the end, and if God willing he is released, to protect him from those in the population who would take the Islamic law into their own hands.

    Also I pray God uses him to reach many Muslims and bring them to Christ!

  • jeffkrotts

    Is this a wakeup call?

    Greetings Friends,

    God has a mission for Pastor Youcef Naderkhani! No matter which way this turns out he has been given an opportunity to serve as an example to all of us. What would you do if you were put in a similar position? Maybe the question shouldn’t be if but when. Is this a wakeup call? It has become blatantly apparent to me that the Muslim communities of the world are on the march towards total domination threw attrition. Don’t think so check the many countries of Europe. France, Germany, England whose cultures are slowly being replaces by there guest workers traditions. There are already parts of France where sharia law is the law of the land. Some would call this a soft invasion or revolution. Invasion is still invasion no matter how it is perpetrated. If Pastor Youcef Naderkhani is martyred will his death be in vain or will we see things for what they are and insist that the World (United Nations) adopt freedom of religion and conscience without the threat of reprisal or punishment by ones own government or people as in this case. Some say it isn’t our country so we should stay out of it well by the same thinking the world would be under the control of the Nazi’s defeated in World War II. We are responsible for making this world a better place whether it be fighting a war to stop aggression of neighbor against neighbor, putting a stop to a tyrannical dictator or calling a sovereign country on a moral or ethical issue when and where we see it. If ya think we have to be perfect to point out ethics or morals to others well then there has only been one person, in the history of the world, who shouldn’t keep his mouth shut and if you see him it’s already too late.

  • dreremiusarifin

    pressure Iran, send GI Joe, Rambo, etc…………there

  • sam38

    Not the people, the government. It is not surprising that Iranians who emigrate to other countries are joining Christian churches at a surprisingly high rate.

  • sam38

    Okay, so Iran’s official interpretation of “truth” is that anyone of Islamic ancestry who is a Christian deserves the death penalty? Wouldn’t that also apply to President Obama, since his father was Muslim? Whatever you think of Obama personally, any country that would advocate the killing of a US commander in chief should not be allowed nuclear weapons–or any weapons, for that matter.

  • ccnl1

    And the idiocy of it all is that Islam is based on the “angelic revelations” of the mythical Gabriel to one of the great con men of history, Mohammed. Such ignorance can be easily classifed as “vomit inducing”.

  • josefkhen

    Some of these comments are certainly not taking the high road. Stand for justice and mercy, but not by vilifying others or their faith.

    For the record, concern for Pastor Youcef is not limited to the Christian “Right.” Mainline denominational leaders are also calling for his release, including my own, the Presbyterian Church (USA). Perhaps if the Christian Right weren’t implying that it’s their issue, rather than that of all Christians, it would get wider media coverage. To wit: Washington Post, why hasn’t this been on the front page, as the case of the American hikers was many times?

  • Lizardo

    Don’t stop as saving one guy, attack the ‘legal’ entities that allow it. Basically what Iran is saying is that if there is a Muslim ancestor in your family and you are not Muslim you should be killed. Maybe Barry Obama should take a little trip to Iran and dare them to try and execute him too.

  • shilotoren

    Iran is bad news. Declare the Iranian judges as terrorists and drone them. That will get their attention.

  • MichaelMarr

    Waiting on that for 32 years now.

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