The Washington Times - September 29, 2011, 06:20PM

Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani leads a network of Christian house churches in Iran and was convicted for apostasy by Iranian authorities for being a Christian with Islamic ancestry and must therefore recant his faith in Jesus Christ. According to reports, he has been given three different chances to do this since his hearing on Wednesday and he has refused.

In September 2010, Nadarkhani was sentenced to death by hanging for apostasy. The Iranian Supreme Court upheld Nadarkhani’s conviction in July, while ordering a re-examination of the case, which began Sept. 25.  

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Iran’s Supreme court ruled prior that it needed to be determined if Nadarkhani was a Christian convert who practiced Islam previously.  Jordan Sekulow writes at the Washington Post

However, the judges, acting like terrorists with a hostage, demanded that he recant his faith in Christ before even taking evidence. The judges stated that even though the judgment they have made is against the current Iranian and international laws, they have to uphold the previous decision of the 27th Branch of the Supreme Court in Qom.

The White House as well as Speaker of the House John Boehner, Ohio Republican, have condemned Iran’s actions on Nadarkhani’s case. 

“While Iran’s government claims to promote tolerance, it continues to imprison many of its people because of their faith. This goes beyond the law to an issue of fundamental respect for human dignity. I urge Iran’s leaders to abandon this dark path, spare (Nadarkhani’s) life, and grant him a full and unconditional release,” Speaker Boehner said.

“A decision to impose the death penalty would further demonstrate the Iranian authorities’ utter disregard for religious freedom, and highlight Iran’s continuing violation of the universal rights of its citizens,” White House press secretary Jay Carney wrote in a press statement to Bloomberg News.

Britain has also come out against the potential execution of Nadarkhani. Bloomberg News reports:

“I deplore reports that Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani, an Iranian church leader, could be executed imminently after refusing an order by the Supreme Court of Iran to recant his faith,” Foreign Secretary William Hague said in a statement on the Foreign and Commonwealth Office website.

“This demonstrates the Iranian regime’s continued unwillingness to abide by its constitutional and international obligations to respect religious freedom,” the statement said. “I pay tribute to the courage shown by Pastor Nadarkhani who has no case to answer and call on the Iranian authorities to overturn his sentence.” 

Christian groups from all over the world are speaking out for Nadarkhani now. “As Christians we believe faith should be by choice, not coercion,” said Leith Anderson, President of National Association of Evangelicals. “Iran’s conviction and threatened execution of Pastor Nadarkhani is religious persecution at its worst.”