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In September, Iranian authorities released Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani, allowing him to reunite with his family after nearly three years of captivity. The Southern Baptist Convention Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission reports about the release.
Nadarkhani was under a death sentence for apostasy because of his conversion to Christianity from Islam, but an Iranian court released the pastor, charging him for evangelizing Muslims instead.
Dr. Richard Land, president of the Southern Baptist Conventions Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, says Christians should be reminded of the need to stand up for religious freedom in other countries.
"We should take the occasion to call upon the Iranian government to apologize for the barbaric treatment that Pastor Nadarkhani has received just for exercising his freedom of conscience; and it should remind all of us to renew our efforts to call upon all governments around the world to release all prisoners of conscience, who are there just for exercising their faith or their conscience," he urges.
Land recalled the comments of a Baptist from long ago as he encourages Christians to join together in calling for worldwide recognition of this God-given right of individual conscience.
"Back in the seventeenth century, Roger Williams in his famous 'Bloody Tenet of Persecution' said that for any man to coercively interfere with another man's relationship with God was 'rape of the soul,'" he remarks.
Many more Iranians remain in prison and face persecution simply because of their faith. More than 100 Baha'is and members of the Sunni Muslim, Zoroastrian and Gonabadi Dervish communities are imprisoned.
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