Youcef Nadarkhani’s case unites people around religious liberty

The fight to save the life of Christian Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani, who has been sentenced to death in Iran for … Continued

The fight to save the life of Christian Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani, who has been sentenced to death in Iran for his faith, is truly uniting people of all faiths – atheists too – and political persuasions across the world.

We have seen statements calling on Iran to release this persecuted pastor from President Obama’s White House, Secretary Clinton’s State Department, and Republican presidential campaigns. Governor Mitt Romney was one of the first political leaders to call for Pastor Nadarkhani’s freedom, calling Iran’s actions an “outrage against humanity.”

Representatives Joe Pitts (R-PA), an evangelical Christian conservative, and Keith Ellison (D-MN), the first Muslim and one of the most liberal members of Congress, are spearheading a congressional resolution in support of Pastor Youcef, H.Res. 556. Thus far, 61 members of Congress, including nine Democrats, have signed on to co-sponsor the resolution, “Condemning the Government of Iran for its continued persecution, imprisonment, and sentencing of Youcef Nadarkhani on the charge of apostasy.” We hope and expect the resolution to receive overwhelming bipartisan support when it is brought up for a vote before the full House on Wednesday.

As the resolution states, “[F]reedom of religious belief and practice is a universal human right and a fundamental freedom of every individual, regardless of race, sex, country, creed, or nationality, and should never be arbitrarily abridged by any government.”

It has been remarkable to see how religious liberty can unite every side of the political divide. Liberal-leaning blogs like the Huffington Post have reported on the fight to save this evangelical pastor’s life, and conservative blogger Michelle Malkin has been tremendously supportive on this issue.

In fact, Jordan (a co-author of this blog) appeared on a liberal radio show discussing this very fact. Conservatives and liberals in America have truly joined forces to fight for Pastor Youcef’s life.

Nadarkhani’s case and the cause of religious liberty have done more than unite differing political parties; it has united religious leaders in America and around the world. In addition to Congressman Ellison’s public stand, Harris Zafar, national spokesman for the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, has joined the fight for Youcef’s release, calling Iran’s actions “a violation of human rights and . . . a violation of Islam.”

Diverse religious groups such as the Union of Councils for Jews in the Former Soviet Union, The National Spiritual Assembly of the Baha’is of the U.S., and Hindu American Foundation have called for Pastor Youcef’s release.

Internationally, foreign leaders from the United Kingdom, Germany, Brazil,, European Union and United Nations have spoken out on Pastor Nadarkhani’s behalf. The European Parliament, Australian Senate, Mexican Senate, and Uruguay House of Representatives have all passed resolutions calling on Iran to respect the basic human right of religious liberty and free Pastor Youcef.

At the ACLJ, we have witnessed firsthand this truly immense outpouring of support for Pastor Youcef and religious liberty as more than 165,000 people have signed our “Petition to Free Christian Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani.” In addition, our “Tweet for Youcef” campaign is reaching nearly 900,000 people each day in over 87 percent of the world’s nations.

It is amazing what can be accomplished when we refuse to let religious liberty become a political punching bag and all join forces to stand up for freedom to believe, or not believe, across the globe.

We urge every member of Congress to support the resolution in support of Pastor Youcef, and ask everyone to pray for Pastor Youcef, utilize the ACLJ’s “Tweet for Youcef” program, and share his story with friends and family.

The Washington Post’s “On Faith” deserves thanks for publishing, “some of the first major media coverage of Pastor Nadarkhani’s case since his appeal was rejected” by Iran’s Supreme Court on September 21st, 2011 and for highlighting his “pending death sentence” September 27th.

Jordan Sekulow is Executive Director of the American Center for Law & Justice and writes for On Faith’s blogging network at the Washington Post. Matthew Clark is an attorney for the ACLJ. Anna Sekulow is Director of Digital Policy for the ACLJ and creator of “Tweet for Youcef.”

  • RannPatterson

    I am new to the Internet and social media in general, but hooked up to Facebook, then Twitter. I am proud to say I just looked at my Facebook timeline and I still have the Sept. 27 post of Pastor Nardakhani that I “shared” from Jordan’s post about him that day and in the following weeks. At the time I didn’t have but a few friends, but one of them was a Brazilian I met during on The Weather Channel page during Hurricane Irene. He happen to have 1,000 friends!

    Since then, I have Retweeted most all that I’ve seen of Anna’s or Jordan’s posts and those from the ACLJ. I am so thankful for them and the work they do, and I thank the Washington Post for supporting the ACLJ and the Sekulow family for starting what has obviously turned into a huge global community of empassioned human beings responding in their belief to the right to life.

  • PhilyJimi

    As an atheist and guilty of the same crime Apostasy, I find it strange I am one of the 1st to comment here about this.

    Nadarkhani has been charges with the crime of Apostasy. Technically he isn’t being put to death for being a Christian. Funny how the idea of “Religious Liberty” is used in the title. Actually Iran is very clearly following it’s religious laws. By telling a country that it is not allowed to follow it’s religious law, it would seem you’re supporting the denial of “Religious Liberty”? Humm, those pesky double edged swords.

    The following countries will punish Apostasy with the death penalty: Iran, Egypt, Pakistan, United Arab Emirates, Somalia, Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Qatar, Yemen & Mauritania. Anyone detecting a pattern here?

    Didn’t these countries get the memo telling them the “dark ages” are over?

    As an atheist I really find the idea of apostasy kind of like hearing a 3 year old argue with an 8 year old about Santa being real. This is just an example of how dangerous all religious beliefs are.

    Too many religious people will say only that little bit is taken out of context but the rest of the craziness the religion teaches is just fine, like virgin births, global floods, talking snakes, a god that fake his death for 2 days and their loving god will inflict a punishment far worse then death to be given to Nadarkhani to an atheist like me forever and ever and ever for the same Apostasy crime.

    Oh, well if god fries me to a cinder every day for the rest of time. In that case the moderates will be okay with the teaching of their religion. Even if I cured cancer and invented a new food storage system that ended world wide hunger, as an Apostate I must be punished. But a death row criminal who killed 100’s of children can still be saved 1 week before his death, and live forever in heaven. Moderates are usually just fine with this.

  • beekeeper6

    I am an atheist and of course I support the right of everyone to practice their own religion freely. The Koran explicitly states there shall be no compulsion in religion, so all Muslims should be lining up in support of him as well.

  • FrAndrew1

    If there were a corresponding “other side,” in Iran, that might be enough to move the Iranian Govenment to consider mercy. Alas, there is no such entity. Miracles do happen, but . . . .

  • starlifter1271

    I have been following this story on CBN for about 9 months now and to see this story get air time on a big media outlet is AWESOME!!!!!!!(GO God) FrAndrew… yes miracles do happen, and everything happens for a purpose…an I hope and pray for a positive outcome. It has been really cool to watch God work in this case… and he is still working

  • marviny

    Please help free Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani!

  • momkestner

    Youcef Nadarkhani is each of us in every place. With internet connecting countries around the world- it’s as though we are all in each other’s backyard. I don’t care what religion you follow -EVERYONE should be petitioning for this man’s freedom! Can anyone imagine a U.S. citizen converting to Islam and being sentenced to death for that reason?

  • momkestner

    I am a Christ follower but I really hear what you’re saying. thanks for posting. And I’m going to let your concerns make me think more ….I want to be “light” that Jesus talk about.

  • momkestner

    I am a Christ follower but I really appreciate your comment and also have thought that Muslims should be supporting this man. I have to say that often times atheists have some very thought provoking ideas. I had a very personal experience that brought me to Jesus but He is often misrepresented today just as he was long ago. Just want you to know I appreciate your comment.

  • Catken1

    Gee, but why are you supporting Nardakhani, who is trying to take away the majority’s religious freedom by refusing to live by their taboos? He’s trying to force them to redefine “religion” to include beliefs they consider abomination.

    After all, you whine and complain when women seek to have themselves treated as legal persons and the owners of their own bodies, because YOUR religion demands that they be property of any fetus who chooses to implant themselves inside their organs. You complain that your freedoms are being taken away because gay people get to “redefine” marriage by choosing spouses that are taboo in your faith.

    But when the religious majority in another country seeks to force Christians to live by their rules, you whine and scream and protest “Persecution!” In this case, you’re right. But then why do you do it to others here?

  • TopTurtle

    It’s disgusting that Pastor Nadarkhani would be put to death for apostasy. I certainly support any efforts to free him.

    On the other hand, let’s make sure that we’re learning the fundamental lesson illustrated by Nadarkhani’s case: legislation based on religious beliefs leads to trouble. While no main stream political figures in America are calling for the death penalty for non-believers in Christianity, they could find tangential support for such laws in the Bible just as Muslims find it in the Koran. (Deuteronomy 17 and more like it.) Legislation of religion is the problem, not legislation of the “wrong” religion.

    When people want to legislate based on their religious beliefs, I’m forced to ask why they only view some of their religious beliefs as appropriate for legislation.