Archives For Saeed Abedini

NEWS | Imprisoned pastor Saeed Abedini has become a key figure in news coverage surrounding the nuclear deal with Iran struck by President Barack Obama and other world leaders this week.

Image from a May 2012 YouTube video Saeed Abedini made before his imprisonment.

Image from a May 2012 YouTube video Saeed Abedini made before his imprisonment.

Abedini’s wife, Naghmeh, expressed her disappointment that a deal was reached without securing the release of her husband and other Americans imprisoned in Iran. Mrs. Abedini’s legal representation, the American Center for Law and Justice, released a petition calling Congress to reject the deal, The Christian Post reports.

“It is unconscionable that the Obama Administration would sign a deal with Iran without securing the freedom of Pastor Saeed who has been imprisoned for nearly three years simply because of his Christian faith,” said Jay Sekulow, chief counsel at ACLJ, in a news release.

“President Obama told the Abedini family face-to-face that he considered the release of Pastor Saeed a ‘top priority.’ How could that be a ‘top priority’ when a deal is reached and Pastor Saeed is left behind? What happened today makes a bad deal even worse. We will now focus our attention on convincing Congress to reject this deal.”

Obama faced similar opposition in-person, when CBS News reporter Major Garrett asked him in a press conference why he is “content with all the fanfare around this deal to leave the conscience of this nation, the strength of this nation unaccounted for in relation to these four Americans?”

Calling that notion “nonsense,” the President said he previously met with the families of some of the imprisoned Americans and that connecting their release with the deal would have encouraged Iran to seek more concessions, CNN Money reported after the exchange.

Southern Baptist Convention President Ronnie Floyd told Baptist Press, “While still learning more about this deal made with Iran, I stand appalled that we would make any kind of deal that would not demand the immediate release of the four Americans held hostage, including Pastor Saeed Abedini.

“Additionally, I am concerned for the safety of the people of Israel, America’s great ally. All of this calls the church to rise up and pray for the peace of Jerusalem, as well as recommit ourselves to the evangelization of the world.”

Rob (left) and Mona Payne (center) lead worship during "Pop Up Church" for Downtown Phoenix Church, also known as DTPHX Church. Photo by Shawn Hendricks/BP

Rob (left) and Mona Payne (center) lead worship during “Pop Up Church” in Phoenix. Photo by Shawn Hendricks/BP

THE BRIEFING | Meredith Flynn

Young adults in downtown Phoenix “don’t think about going to church on Sunday morning any more than you and I think about going to bingo on Friday nights,” says Pastor Jim Helman. To reach Millennials, his Downtown Phoenix Church “pops up” every other week at a coffee shop or in a park, and uses the other weeks to serve the community. Read more at BPNews.net.


His Seattle Seahawks may have lost the Super Bowl in stunning fashion (that second down call!), but quarterback Russell Wilson seems to already be bouncing back via Twitter. After the game, the outspoken Christian posted motivational messages and Psalm 18:1–“I will love You, O LORD, my strength.”


Imprisoned pastor Saeed Abedini thanked President Obama for meeting with his wife and children last week, and for assuring the couple’s young son that he will try to secure his father’s release by March (when Jacob Abedini will celebrate his 7th birthday). “I know that as a father you can truly understand the pain and anguish of my children living without their father and the burden that is on my wife as a single mother,” Abedini wrote to Obama from Rajaee Shahr prison in Iran.

In the letter, provided online by the American Center for Law and Justice, Abedini also thanked Obama “for standing up for my family and I and for thousands of Christians across the world who are persecuted for their faith in Jesus Christ.”


The American Bible Society will relocate to Philadelphia after selling its Manhattan building for $300 million, reports The Christian Post. The 12-story facility on Broadway, which has housed ABS since 1966, is about 10 blocks from another ministry: the offices of the Metro New York Baptist Association.


Religion writer Cathy Lyn Grossman reports on the “post-seculars,” a group defined in a new study as falling between “traditional” and “modern” views of science and religion. Said study co-author Timothy O’Brien, “We were surprised to find this pretty big group (21 percent) who are pretty knowledgeable and appreciative about science and technology but who are also very religious and who reject certain scientific theories.”


Democrats feel more warmly toward Muslims than do Republicans, Pew reports in a study on how ideology and age affect American “temperatures” about Muslims and Islam.


As Boko Haram continues to wage a war of terror in Nigeria, “…God has raised up believers who have remained steadfast and bold in the midst of applied pressures to silence them,” said one Christian worker, according to this Baptist Press story.


 

Image from a May 2012 YouTube video Saeed Abedini made before his imprisonment.

Image from a May 2012 YouTube video Saeed Abedini made before his imprisonment.

THE BRIEFING | At a meeting last week with the wife and children of imprisoned pastor Saeed Abedini, President Barack Obama said securing his release is a top priority, according to a release from the American Center for Law and Justice.

“The President was focused and gracious – showing concern to me and my children,” said Naghmeh Abedini. “I know that this meeting could not have occurred without prayer and I am grateful to the many people around the country and world who continue to pray for Saeed’s release.”

Obama reportedly told the Abedinis’ young son that he would try to have his father home by the boy’s birthday in March. The pastor, an American citizen, was arrested in Iran in 2012 and charged with “undermining national security,” Christianity Today reports. Last June, he was awarded a religious liberty award by the Southern Baptist Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, which his wife accepted on his behalf.


Jury selection started yesterday in the trial over Houston’s Equal Rights Ordinance, spearheaded by a coalition of ministers who collected petitions to repeal the ordinance passed by the City Council last May. (The city disqualified many of the 50,000 signatures collected.) The complicated case also included an effort to subpoena communications and sermons by five Houston ministers; the subpoenas were eventually dropped.

Opponents of the Houston ordinance recently aided Plano residents in collecting signatures to stop a similar ordinance in their city, Baptist Press reported.


A rumored protest by Westboro Baptist Church didn’t come to fruition at a Quad Cities-area Illinois Baptist church, but representatives of the infamous Kansas congregation (which is not affiliated with the Southern Baptist Convention) did visit some churches in the area, and were met with counter-protestors. Prior to Sunday, January 25, Westboro protestors were scheduled to be at Northcrest Calvary, an Illinois Baptist State Association church in Rock Island.


Alabama is the most recent state to face a challenge to its ban on same-sex marriage, Baptist Press reports. Judge Callie V.S. Granade ruled the ban unconstitutional Jan. 23, in a case involving a lesbian couple who married in California but were denied adoption rights in Alabama. The state’s association of probate judges–who are responsible for issuing marriage licenses–said Granade’s ruling doesn’t impact anyone not named in the case.


The struggle continues between New York City public schools and churches that want to rent their space for Sunday worship, Christianity Today reports. The most recent development is an apparent change of heart by Mayor Bill de Blasio.


George Perdikis, who co-founded The Newsboys in the 1980s, has officially renounced his Christian faith, The Christian Post reports. The musician wrote in a recent post on Patheos.com: “I always felt uncomfortable with the strict rules imposed by Christianity. All I wanted to do was play rock and roll.”


Where does your city rank when it comes to “Bible-mindedness?” Barna and the American Bible Society released their annual list of the most Bible-minded cities in the U.S. Four Illinois cities landed in the top 50; see which ones at Barna.com.

 

This image was captured from a 2012 YouTube video Saeed Abedini made before his 2013 imprisonment for his faith.

This image was captured from a 2012 YouTube video Saeed Abedini made before his 2013 imprisonment for his faith. Photo from BP

Note: This article was compiled by Baptist Press, with reporting by Morning Star News (www.MorningStarNews.org).

HEARTLAND | As pastor Saeed Abedini nears the second anniversary of imprisonment in Iran, his wife Naghmeh is organizing a Sept. 26 worldwide prayer vigil for Abedini and other Christians persecuted for their faith.

“I’m doing a prayer vigil on this day to remember Pastor Saeed and others who are imprisoned for Christ, but also as a chance to come together as the Body of Christ and see the move of God as we pray together,” she said in a video posted on the Be Heard Project’s website, an initiative of the American Center for Law and Justice. “Please join me on this special day as we come together and pray.”

As of Sept. 18, groups had signed up to host individual prayer meetings at more than 418 locations in the United States, including Southern Baptist churches, the White House, the steps of state capitols, and Christian churches of various denominations.

Abedini is serving an eight-year sentence imposed Jan. 27, 2013, on charges he threatened national security by planting house churches in Iran years earlier. Iran refuses to recognize the U.S. citizenship Abedini gained in 2010.

Abedini faces death threats in prison, avoiding exercise sessions when radical Islamists would most likely try to kill him, the U.S. Center for Law and Justice reported in August. His wife and their two children remain in Idaho.

The prayer vigil comes as at least three other Christian pastors in Iran are facing charges deemed punishable by death, Morning Star News reported. Read more at BPNews.net.

Registration information for the prayer vigil is available at http://beheardproject.com/prayer-vigil/saeed.

Tuesday_BriefingTHE BRIEFING | Meredith Flynn

Uptown Baptist Church in Chicago held a prayer vigil last Wednesday evening after a drive-by shooting at the corner of Sheridan Rd. and Wilson Ave. rocked their neighborhood two days before. The church was in the middle of a prayer service when the shots were fired from a passing car, seriously wounding five men. One victim has since died.

Police believe the violence is gang-related.

“Just left the prayer vigil @ ubc tonight,” Pastor Michael Allen tweeted last Wednesday. “Great night. Proud of the Chicago Bride of Christ. We cried, sang, quoted Bible, prayed, hugged…”

Allen also shared through social media that six people were baptized Sunday at Wilson Ave. beach: “‘Out of the ashes we rise…there’s non like You’ Oh God!”

The Chicago Tribune interviewed Allen about his neighborhood shortly after the shooting. Read it here.

Other news:

Christian photographers fined for refusing to photograph same-sex ceremonyA New Mexico court ruled against Elaine and Jonathan Huguenin, photographers who declined an assignment to shoot a same-sex commitment ceremony in 2006. Fox News reports the Huguenins turned down the “because their Christian beliefs were in conflict with the message communicated by the ceremony.” New Mexico has no statute for or against same-sex marriage; the court ruled the photographers were in violation of the state’s Human Rights Act. Read Fox News reporter Todd Starnes’ full story here.

Florida pastors take message of racial reconciliation on the road
The pastors who helped keep the peace in Sanford, Fl., during George Zimmerman’s trial and following his acquittal are on a multi-city tour to help other leaders deal with race issues in their communities. (Zimmerman was on trial for the murder of African American teen Trayvon Martin.) Christianity Today reports the pastors, who took turns sitting through Zimmerman’s trial in a show of unity with one another, were in Detroit last week and will soon visit Toledo, Charlotte, New York, Denver and Minneapolis. Read more at ChristianityToday.com.

Abedini denied reprieve from Iranian court
Pastor Saeed Abedini, imprisoned in Iran since 2012, still faces the remainder of his eight year sentence, even as Abedini’s attorneys and others from the international community fought on his behalf. “The decision is deeply troubling and underscores Iran’s continued violation of principles of freedom of religion, association, peaceful assembly, and expression,” said Jordan Sekulow, executive director of the American Center for Law and Justice. The Christian Post reports prayer vigils are planned for Abedini around the world on September 26. The pastor, an Iranian-American, is charged with threatening national security, but his representatives believe his imprisonment is more a result of his Christian faith. Read the The Christian Post’s full story here.

Survey measures American norms a decade after 9/11Americans report being less committed to getting ahead in life, more concerned about the future, lonelier and more stressed out in the years since September 11, 2001. Barna’s fascinating survey looks at how the last decade has changed us.