By Charlie Butts
The American Family Association (AFA) is calling its members into action on behalf of an Iranian pastor who faces execution.
Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani never practiced the Muslim faith and converted to Christianity at age 19, becoming a pastor later. But the courts say that since his mother and father were practicing Muslims, he must recant his Christian faith or die. Thus far, in three court appearances, he has refused to do so - and he could be executed at any time (on or after Thursday, September 29). (See earlier story)
According to an AFA Action Alert, when asked by judges to "repent," Yousef replied: "Repent meant to return. What should I return to? To the blasphemy that I had before my faith in Christ?"
The judges replied: "To the religion of your ancestors - Islam." To which Yousef replied: "I cannot."
AFA's Ed Vitagliano suggests it's time for the body of Christ to act. "... Christians in the West need to be praying for our brothers and sisters who are facing, as Pastor Nadarkhani is facing, possible death for their faith," he states.
Other forms of action can be taken by expressing concern to the U.S. State Department, members of Congress, and the White House.
"I think it's incumbent on Christians not to let cases like this just simply slip to the back of their minds," the AFA spokesman suggests. "We're talking about a brother in Christ, a pastor, who faces immediate execution if people in the West don't speak up."
Vitagliano notes that while there are geopolitical differences between the United States and Iran, the United States still can be instrumental "in getting some sort of humanitarian appeal to the leadership in Iran." While the case might be appealed to the Iranian Supreme Court, the nation often acts quickly in administering the death penalty.
Nadarkhani Refuses to Repent; Awaiting Final Ruling on Apostasy Death Sentence - International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran
White House condemns Iran over Christan pastor facing execution - Telegraph.co.uk
Britain, U.S. Call on Iran to Halt Execution of Christian Pastor - Bloomberg
EU's Ashton calls for Iran pastor release - Focus News
Iran Pastor Remains on Death Row; Prayers Urged - Gospel Herald