Thursday, September 29, 2011

Iranian Judge Demands That Christian Pastor Recant

Pastor Yusef Nadarkhani
& his family

Students in my philosophy classes at MCCC know I am a Jesus-follower, a "Christian," and a pastor of a local church. I do not feel disrespected by them, for the most part, even though my classes have non-believers, atheists, agnostics, etc. I receive little persecution for being open about this, and what little I receive is emotional, not physical. (Most of my students do not know what a "Christian" is. And for a number of them, the word "Christian" has negative connotations. "Christians" are viewed as intolerant, unloving, judgmental and, frankly, no different in lifestyle and behavior from other people. Who on earth would want to be a "Christian" or associate with "Christians?" So I mostly use the term "Jesus-follower.")

One reason for the relative lack of religious persecution American Jesus-followers receive is that America has learned to assimilate religious beliefs. Europe has not. And certain Arab nations are positively intolerant of non-Muslims. (On the European failure to assimilate Muslims see Christopher Caldwell, Reflections on the Revolution In Europe: Immigration, Islam and the West.) 

An example of the latter is that today, in Iran, Pastor Yusuf Naderkhani faces possible execution in just a few days. He is accused of having once been a Muslim, but leaving Islam to follow Jesus. One report gives us the dialogue between the judge and Naderkhani.

"When asked to repent, Naderkhani stated: "Repent means to return. What should I return to? To the blasphemy that I had before my faith in Christ?"
"To the religion of your ancestors, Islam," the judge replied, according to the American Center for Law & Justice.
"I cannot," Naderkhani said."

I present to you Pastor Yusef Naderkhani, who would rather be executed than deny his loyalty to Jesus.