Religious Persecution: The Case of Pastor Saeed
By John Livingston Clark
Pastor Saeed Abedini is an Iranian-American who has been in prison since September of 2012, and on January 27, 2013 was sentenced to eight years. The charge brought against him was “undermining national security through his Christian evangelical activities in Iran in the early 2,000’s.” He has also been told that he has been imprisoned for his attempt to sway youth from Islam and starting house churches. He was arrested when he returned to Iran to continue building an orphanage in the city of Rasht.
During his time in jail Saeed has been put in solitary confinement, beaten, denied medical treatment, and held in a cell block with hardened criminals and other life threatening conditions. The Muslim doctors and nurses have at times refused to treat him because he is a Christian, and thus, they consider him to be “unclean and an infidel.” Recently, he was told that unless he denied his faith in Jesus and returned to Islam, which he renounced in 2000, he would stay in prison indefinitely. To make matters worse he is not allowed any phone calls to his wife, an American citizen, and two children, who live in Boise, Idaho. They are all members of Calvary Chapel.
Saeed’s wife, Naghmeh, said, “God has chosen us for this ordeal.” Pastor Saeed’s response has been Romans 8:35-39. “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written: ‘For Your sake we are killed all day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.’ Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height or depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
There is an ongoing and increased effort to destroy the home church ministry. Beating of Christians has become an open demonstration in front of family and friends. “Any Christian from a Muslim background is looked at as a sort of a risk for national security” and Christians are followed around by agents from the internal security agency. Other Christians are being arrested and beaten, but Pastor Saeed’s story has commanded international attention because of his prolonged imprisonment and the refusal of Iranian government officials to make good on statements they have made to release him. Iran is ranked fifth in the world for the persecution of Christians.
Pastor Saeed’s case is only one out of 100 million Christians being persecuted, arrested, and killed for their faith around the world, according to Open Doors Ministry. Things are being done continually in an attempt to have him released. The American Center for Law and Justice has been focusing on him for quite some time in their newsletters, and are actively involved in securing his freedom. We must keep Pastor Saeed in our thoughts and prayers, as well as his wife and children in Boise, Idaho.