Here at Via Meadia, we have been keeping an eye on instances of religious persecution throughout the world. We wrote earlier about the plight of Yusef Nadarkhani, a Christian pastor in Iran who was given the choice to either convert to Islam or be sentenced to death. Nadarkhani has remained steadfast in his Christian beliefs and is awaiting the hangman in an Iranian jail. From CNN:
Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani, the head of a network of Christian house churches in Iran, could be executed as soon as midnight Wednesday in Tehran for refusing to recant his religious beliefs and convert to Islam, said the chair of a commission that monitors religious freedom around the world.
After four days of an appeals trial for apostasy, Nadarkhani refused to recant his beliefs.
This episode is the latest example of a trend toward greater religious intolerance toward Christians in Iran. The final determination of Pastor Nadarkhani’s fate will likely weigh heavily on U.S. public opinion toward Iran and President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who attempted to use the release of U.S. hikers from Iranian prison last week to burnish his image abroad.
This is the kind of story that often travels under the radar for elite, secular Americans, but news that a courageous Christian pastor is facing death in Iran because of a refusal to convert to Islam can only build public support for a tough stand against the mullahcracy. Such thoughts seem mundane and unworthy; admiration for the dignity and commitment of Pastor Nadarkhani and prayers for his safety and the well being of his family seem more appropriate now.