National Harbor, Md. — Religious freedom is not being addressed in the Obama administration's negotiations with Iran over its nuclear capability, complained Naghmeh Abedini, an Iranian-American whose husband, Saeed Abedini, is imprisoned in Iran because of his Christian faith.
"What kind of message are we sending to the world when we continue to negotiate while Iran continues to abuse one of our own, an American pastor?" she asked. "What is our message to the world on religious freedom issues?"
Paraphrasing Dietrich Bonhoeffer, a German pastor who died for his faith at the hands of the Nazis, she added, "silence in the face of evil is evil in itself."
Abedini was speaking at the Conservative Political Action Conference, a yearly gathering of conservatives from across the country, near Washington, D.C.
"I'm proud to see my husband stand up for his faith in the face of evil," she said. "As he stands up for his faith, how are we, as his country, standing up for him? I'm heartbroken that we continue to negotiate with Iran as they are holding one of our own, an American pastor, captive."
Even though her husband, who converted from Islam to Christianity, suffered beatings and solitary confinement, he will not deny his faith, Abedini explained.
"He stood up for his faith because he believes Jesus Christ is the son of God and he came on this Earth and died on the cross and paid for our sin. He learned that truth as a Muslim and discovered the love of God. That transformed his life forever. He wanted to lay down his life for the orphans and for the hopeless."
Even as he is persecuted for his faith in Iran, Abedini added that she and her husband continue to be concerned about the decline of religious freedom and devotion to God in their own country.
For many years, she said, Saeed Abedini has been "weeping about" and "getting on his knees for hours" in prayer for revival in the United States.
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"The Bible says, when we turn our eyes to God, when we repent, seek God, He will heal our land," she continued. "The responsibility is on God to heal our land, our responsibility is to seek Him. This great nation is blessed because of our foundation in Jesus Christ. My prayer, and Saeed's prayer, is that we would turn our eyes back on Jesus, that we repent of the ways we turn to other things to fulfill us, and turn back our eyes to Jesus. I pray for healing for our nation and that we would get back to our core value of religious freedom."