Religious Rights

Spencer Bradford says:
January 5, 2011 at 5:39 pm
I am active in the U.S. in campaigns for human rights, opposing the death penalty in the U.S. and supporting Palestinian rights.

I’m informed by a human rights group that an Iranian pastor in the Full Gospel “Church of Iran” association, Youcef Nardarkhani, has been in prison since 2009 for protesting a requirement that his son study the Quran, and that 18 other Christians arrested in 2010 are also still in prison for faith-based offenses.

I advocate ending U.S. financial support for Israel based on their human rights violations and flagrant disregard for international law, but I also support terminating U.S. funding for Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, and Egypt on the same basis of human rights violations. I don’t want to see military confrontation develop between the U.S. and Iran (and certainly not Israel and Iran), but neither can I support normalizing relationships with a regime that suppresses dissent with such profligacy and brutality (including the use of executions) as the current Iranian government. So I presently will not address Iran with my legislative representative and Senators in the U.S. Congress.

Is there any element in the Iranian government that recognizes this will be an enduring obstacle to any prospect for normalization of relations with the U.S., and is working to change that? Or is that simply not significant in current political priorities?

Reply

JE says:
January 30, 2011 at 2:05 pm
“I’m informed by a human rights group that an Iranian pastor in the Full Gospel “Church of Iran” association, Youcef Nardarkhani, has been in prison…”

Dear Mr. Bradford
1- For me, no matter where you are from or in which activities you are involved, it is important that you are a human with dignity, rights, and respects. Our prophet Mohammed said: Respect everybody, whether he/she is your fellow-religion or your fellowman. In our opinion, as long as one does not do a criminal or illegal act (according to Gods laws or ruling constitution of a country), one has to be considered as honest, free and respected, enjoying all kinds of justice, welfare and independence. No matter who one may be (be they a ruler or a clergy or a pastor or a teacher or a student or a police or …) , he/she is certainly responsible for every deed, especially when it is done in contrast to a country’s norms, laws, constitution and so on, so they may be praised or be punished.
2- What you heard is just what they said. What the media or political groups (sometimes in the form of social groups) say, certainly has some intention in behind that they do not like to speak about. So you are not to blame for hearing such news, but you are responsible for any prejudice you may make.
3- The political and social conditions of the word, especially under the pressure of Zionist groups, are such disturbed ones that one can hardly be sure about the fact that all that is said is reliable or even about who says it is right. As a solution, we probably should know more about who is really who. If you want to know us better, it may be good to investigate about Shia-Islam and our leaders and the Islamic revolution of Iran and its leaders, the motives behind it, and especially its enemies like Zionists.
4- Maybe the most important question about the major human –rights group is that: why do these people never react to the enormous oppressions made by Zionists, American, or British governments on the people of Afghanistan or Iraq. Why does no one cry for hundreds of innocent women and children who are killed or injured everyday by the soldiers of western major powers under the cover of terrorist-fighting or defending human rights. Why is an enormous amount of money spent in wars aimed at colonialism, but not for millions of hungry people in the world or against major illnesses.
5- It is very clear that nowhere in the world can one be punished just because he/she is a pastor. Otherwise, all pastor should be punished, though we can clearly see in the western countries that lots of women are deprived of education just because they are Muslims!!! See which countries have the most dark backgrounds in the field of massacring, bombing other lands, assassinating person of other nations, exploiting other poor countries, killing women and children, supporting tyrant regimes, … . I do not claim we are the best in the word, but at least I can say we have never done those such heinous works.
6- You know better that today all criminals and enemies of any country do their operations under all possible cover like social action or a pastor or a religious or a professor and other titles. Zionists, in order to give a dark international face of Iran, which is a cause of the rise of deprived people against oppressors, planned all-aspect conspiracies by activating individuals and groups in order to make the Iranians provide a hard reaction. When it is done, medias with global effects continue the program by reporting these reactions as deeds against human- rights or against world-peace or against freedom and so on. Certainly, blasphemy is a crime. What is sacred for a group should be esteemed by other groups. By the way, if these so-called pastors are real pious pastors, why do they never go to lands like Africa in order to save people from miseries, massacring and hostilities caused by the lack of religion and appropriate human condition? Why are they today so interested in Iran where lots of Christians were and are living with freedom and at the same time, respecting Iran’s constitution and religious norms. No, dear friend! They are not pastors; they work under the name and cover and the face of a pastor; they are soldiers of Zionists.

Therefore, dear friend! If you ask me whether it is correct that a so-called pastor is arrested or punished in Iran, I say yes. But if you ask me that whether he is punished just because he is a Christian pastor, I, in response, just can advise you to think more. And if you want to talk about the death penalty, I should say it is an independent issue and you have the right to investigate about it.
Best regards,
JE,
Iran.

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One Response to Religious Rights

  1. David Powell says:

    Dear JE,

    In your response to Spencer Bradford, you share truths that I think apply to all countries and people. Without getting to know and understand each other better, we all are blinded by being isolated in our own country and from listening only to the news that we receive. All government leaders carry much power and the human tendency is always toward maintaining that power and sometimes increasing that power, especially when that power feels threatened. As persons who are not leaders with much power, we all still feel threatened by governments or even neighbors who we see as threatening our power, our progress, and sometimes even our existence. So many political decisions are made from both of our countries based on fear. I also believe that many people in both of our countries fully support those leadership decisions based both on fear and a belief that our leaders are speaking more of the truth than the other countries leaders.

    You are right in pointing out that our government (the U.S.) has spent a lot of money increasing violence in some other countries. As an American, I want to tell you that I like our system of government and the independence it gives me as an individual, but I am truly embarrassed at some of the ways our country relates to other countries. Again, I believe that it is out of human fear that our leaders have taken steps at times that have lessened the independence of the people in other countries. Out of fear, they justify in their own minds that this is necessary in order to protect and maintain the independence of our people. I personally apologize for those actions that have had a negative impact on others. That is one of the reasons I feel led to communicate with you as friends, in order to learn and to do my part at changing these negative attitudes that continue to increase distrust.

    You ask a good question about why so much money is spent on war and not helping the hungry. Actually, the U.S. government has spent millions in many places in the world in addressing hunger. I have personally witnessed that in other countries and know that to be true. I do believe that more should be spent and that it should be spent more wisely, free of political intentions. Imagine if all of our countries would reduce their spending on weapons by even 25% and direct that toward addressing poverty! That could make a lot of difference. You also ask the question of why pastors don’t go to other lands of poverty to help people there? I am not a pastor, but I personally spent three years of my life working with the poor in Haiti, the poorest country in the western hemisphere. I also know many other Christians (pastors and others) who have spent much time, sometimes their lives, working in Africa, Latin America, and Southeast Asia to help alleviate poverty and illnesses there. I haven’t personally met them, but there may be similar examples of Muslims who do the same type of work? Again, I believe that we both get led into extreme false beliefs about the other side as well as exaggerated positive views of our own countries and people, if we only listen to the media voices that are the loudest around us. That is why it is important for people to talk and learn to know each other and learn what is in the heart.

    I do not understand where you are referring to when you say that is it clear that in western countries lots of women are deprived of education just because they are Muslim. I have known Muslim women who have been highly educated and have not personally seen this type of discrimination that you describe, but am open to hearing further information that you might have on that. I also do want to tell you that I have heard directly from two persons in Iran who are Christian and are who abiding by the laws, but who feel afraid to tell anyone that they are Christians. Also, I want to say that while I know how I define the word “Zionist”, I am not sure if we are always thinking or talking of the same thing or not. Would you call me a Zionist just because I am an American?

    Another interesting discussion might be to understand what our religions teach us about our relationship to governments and powers. Does your faith teach that you must follow whatever rules a government has, no matter where you are and what those rules are? Just like there are various views within the Christian community about this, there may be various views in the Muslim world. But I would be interested in hearing you and your friend’s views of this, whether it is similar or different.

    In the Anabaptist Mennonite stream of Christianity (the stream that has most impacted my views), we believe that governments and persons of power are to be respected and that they should be given the honor due to them, but we believe that we ultimately follow the principle stated in the Bible that “we must obey God rather than humans.” Therefore, we believe that to the extent the laws of our country do not violate our beliefs, we do observe those laws. However, if those laws require us to take actions that we believe violate the teachings of Christ (such as the action of taking another life or oppressing another person), we believe that it is more important to follow these teachings than to observe the law. I would be interested some time in hearing what you and your friends believe about this.

    I am really glad that we can talk about these things and pray that any of us who write here can continue to do this as friends. May God bless you and your family.

    David Powell

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