• The Heritage Network
    • Resize:
    • A
    • A
    • A
  • Donate
  • World Waking Up to Iran's Religious Persecution

    Today, an Iranian Christian pastor’s life hangs in the balance as he sits in a prison in Iran.

    Yousef Nadarkhani was handed a death sentence in 2009 after questioning the Muslim teachings that his children were receiving at school. While that was the original charge, the Iranian government now claims that Nadarkhani illegally converted from Islam to Christianity as well. The list of alleged crimes is growing.

    Despite signing the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Iran does not recognize the freedom to change religion. Sadly, worldwide religious persecution, specifically against Christians, has increased in recent years, according to the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life.

    With all the international attention, Iran could try to make an example out of the pastor by executing him to prove that anything but Islam will not be tolerated. But the outcome is still uncertain.

    Heritage’s Jennifer Marshall notes that “because these individuals often suffer and die for their faith unknown to the rest of the world, the Iranian regime’s persecution of Nadarkhani is a witness we should heed on their behalf.”

    Marshall explains the state of religious freedom—or lack thereof—under the Iranian regime in a McClatchy column this week:

    Since 1999, Iran has been listed by the U.S. State Department as a country of particular concern because of its disregard for religious freedom. Although the Iranian constitution lists Christianity as a “protected religion” that is due respect, Christians—along with other religious minorities—experience quite the opposite. Religious minorities in Iran report “government imprisonment, harassment, intimidation and discrimination based on their religious beliefs,” according to State’s International Religious Freedom Report, released in September. Since June 2010, “more than 250 Christians have been arbitrarily arrested,” USCIRF adds….

    Religious freedom is the birthright of every man and woman. Yet more than 60 years after nations around the world affirmed this truth, too few governments around the world acknowledge it. And far too many people never have enjoyed it.

    The international community has become increasingly aware of the conditions inside Iran, and at least in this case, the pressure being brought to bear on Iran’s regime might be having an impact. Iran’s Supreme Court has ordered a retrial for Nadarkhani and sought the opinion of Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the Islamic republic’s spiritual leader and highest authority.

    This move was unexpected, according to Jordan Sekulow, executive director of the American Center for Law and Justice.

    “I don’t believe this would’ve ever reached the level of Khamenei without the media attention and outpouring of support we’ve seen,” said Sekulow on FoxNews.com, also noting that “Iran is feeling the pressure” of the growing international community in support of Nadarkhani.

    The plight of Pastor Nadarkhani demonstrates how far the world has to go in terms of religious freedom, and advocates of freedom have a great opportunity now to speak out against this blatant persecution.

    This case is one more reminder that Iran continues to be a horrible threat to anyone unwilling to bow down to Islam. The battle for freedom must endure.

    Posted in Ongoing Priorities [slideshow_deploy]

    7 Responses to World Waking Up to Iran's Religious Persecution

    1. Chris says:

      Great article….thanks for beimg a voice for this young Pastor….may God watch over and keep Him and His family. Justice would be to set him free.

    2. Sharon says:

      What is the status of Youcef Nadarkhani now?

    3. theophobe says:

      Luke 21:12-15 (Jesus is speaking) "… You will be brought before kings and rulers for my sake. But this will turn out for you as an occasion for testimony. Therefore settle it in your hearts not to meditate beforehand on what you will answer; for I will give you a mouth and wisdom which all your adversaries will not be able to contradict or resist."
      I am agreeing with the words of Jesus in praying for Pastor Joucef Nadarkhani, and urge you to join me, that this appearance before Ayatollah Ali Khamenei will turn out to be an occasion for testimony; that Pastor Joucef will not meditate beforehand what he will answer, and that he will be given a mouth and wisdom which his enemies will be unable to contradict or resist.
      I am greatly encouraged by this man's testimony already. He has stood before the court in Rasht and been three times given the chance to deny his faith in Jesus Christ, under penalty of death, and has stood firm. We Western Christians have a lot to learn from these modern day martyrs (witnesses). God bless you, Pastor Youcef!

      • footsoldier says:

        I agree with you in the name of Jesus. May his light shine in such a way that the rulers and kings will see with their understanding and give God the glory. Just as Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego refuse to bow down to the kings image, may the Lord grant Pastor Joucef the grace to stand firm in his faith. Just as the king gave the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego glory, so may the rulers and kings of Iran give the God of Pastor Youcef the glory. "So that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father." [Phil 2:10-11]

    4. @daCubsCat says:

      Baha'is are also being persecuted. NO ONE should be persecuted because of their religion. We all worship the same God. What is the problem??? No one's religion is "better" than the other. GROW UP!

    5. Jesus loves you says:

      There is no force on Earth that can stop Christianity and the message of the Cross and the love of Jesus Christ. Down throught the centuries many christians had been persecuted, martyred by antichristian govt. using the most brutal form of method available at their disposal. Despite all such persecution it continues to grow even at a faster rate. Let's remember this statement, "the blood of the martyre is the seed of the church." The attitude of Iranian govt. shows that their religion has not and cannot transform their lives, hearts. Their faith lacks power to change them.But Jesus who rose fron death has the power. He is the only solution to all the world's problem. Jesus loves Mohammed Ahmedinejad.So pls release the innocent pastor.pls do not fabricate any story to further delay to languish him behind the bar.It is against the islamic teaching.Glory be to Jesus.

    6. Jesus loves you says:

      Do they not know that muslim too were converted from from some other religion?

    Comments are subject to approval and moderation. We remind everyone that The Heritage Foundation promotes a civil society where ideas and debate flourish. Please be respectful of each other and the subjects of any criticism. While we may not always agree on policy, we should all agree that being appropriately informed is everyone's intention visiting this site. Profanity, lewdness, personal attacks, and other forms of incivility will not be tolerated. Please keep your thoughts brief and avoid ALL CAPS. While we respect your first amendment rights, we are obligated to our readers to maintain these standards. Thanks for joining the conversation.

    Big Government Is NOT the Answer

    Your tax dollars are being spent on programs that we really don't need.

    I Agree I Disagree ×

    Get Heritage In Your Inbox — FREE!

    Heritage Foundation e-mails keep you updated on the ongoing policy battles in Washington and around the country.

    ×