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