I just received an email from the White House's Office of the Press Secretary, of which I made a screen grab and post below:
This is as strong a statement as I could have hoped for and states the right position in clear, unambiguous terms. For all the justified criticisms I have made about this administration, this is one issue that they got exactly right. Well done, Mr. President. People of faith under oppression around the world thank you.
Statement by the Press Secretary on Conviction of Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani
The United States condemns the conviction of Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani. Pastor Nadarkhani has done nothing more than maintain his devout faith, which is a universal right for all people. That the Iranian authorities would try to force him to renounce that faith violates the religious values they claim to defend, crosses all bounds of decency, and breaches Iran’s own international obligations. 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. We call upon the Iranian authorities to release Pastor Nadarkhani, and demonstrate a commitment to basic, universal human rights, including freedom of religion.
The back story is that Pastor Nadarkhani has been holding house-church worship of Christians in Iran, for which he was accused and today convicted of apostasy under Islamic law. Apostasy is punishable by death under the terms of sharia law. That Pastor Nadarkhani was never Muslim (having never uttered the shahada, or Islamic confession, in the manner required by the Quran) is held by Iran's murder government as beside the point. Even though the court held that Nadarkhani was never a practicing Muslim, it did not matter because his ancestry was Muslim.
Pastor Nadarkhani was given four opportunities by the court to (a) renounce Christianity and then (b) utter the shahada. He refused and for that he may be sentenced to be
Google News page is here. God be with you, brother. Post continues after the jump