By BosNewsLife Middle East Service
WASHINGTON/TEHRAN (BosNewsLife)– Influential Christian activists prepared to gather in front of the Iranian Interests Section in Washington, D.C. to pray and demand the release of Iranian Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani, who has been sentenced to death for refusing to renounce his Christian faith and embrace Islam.
“We are gathering outside of the Iranian Interests Section to pray and ask God for the safety and immediate release of Pastor Nadarkhani,” said reverend Patrick J. Mahoney, director of the Christian Defense Coalition, a Christian conservative lobby group.
“We are also leaving flowers in front of the Interests Section to show our solidarity for Pastor Nadarkhani, his family, and all our dear brothers and sisters who are persecuted around the world for their faith,” he added.
He said Wednesday’s “prayer vigil and public witness” comes during a week of “fasting and prayer” for the release and safety of Pastor Nadarkhani. “We are also praying that Iran embrace religious freedom for all and move away from a government that crushes human rights and the free expression of faith.”
In recent days an Iranian court again ordered his execution, his church told BosNewsLife, but it remained unclear Tuesday, March 6, when that would be carried out.
Christian rights activists also want U.S. President Barack Obama to more publicly pressure Iran to free the pastor. “We also call upon President Obama to take a more active and visible role and that he personally makes a public statement calling for the immediate release of Pastor Nadarkhani and not just issue statements through a White House Spokesperson,” Mahoney said.
“Iran clearly takes notice that White House has only issued statements and that the President himself has not passionately spoken out on this issue.”
He said the “if the president could personally call” contraception advocate Sandra Fluke after “harsh and mean-spirited statements” about her by talk show host Rush Limbaugh, then “he could personally call for the release of Pastor Nadarkhani… ” The pastor, Mahoney said, “has been sentenced to death by Iran for being a Christian and living out his faith.”
Iranian officials have previously denied the pastor would be hanged for his faith, despite court documents, saying he was “a criminal” and “a Zionist” who “deserved
to be punished.”
Pastor Nadarkhani is involved in the Church of Iran, one of the largest evangelical house church movements in the Islamic nation.