What if you were marked for persecution?
It’s hard to imagine how any of us would react in the instant of a trial, but two Iranian followers of Jesus Christ know for themselves, as they reportedly refused two judges’ order to renounce their faith earlier this month.
“Iranian Christians Saheb Fadaie and Fatemeh Bakhteri were asked by presiding judges Hassan Babaee and Ahmad Zargar to renounce their faith, but refused to do so” during a January 15 trial, according to Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW).
“They were subsequently told to expect a verdict in the appeal against their conviction on charges of ‘spreading propaganda against the regime’ within the next few days,” CSW said.
Fadaie and Bakhteri were previously sentenced to 18 months and 12 months, respectively, in prison on the charges. Fadaie also received an additional sentence of two years internal exile in a remote part of Iran near its border with Afghanistan.
“Fadaie was transported to court from Evin prison, where he is currently serving a 10 year sentence. He was arrested along with fellow Church of Iran members, Pastor Yousef Nadarkhani, Mohammadreza Omidi and Yasser Mossayebzadeh, on 13 May 2016, during a series of raids by security agents on Christian homes in the city of Rasht,” according to CSW.
“In July 2017, all four received 10 year sentences ‘for acting against national security’ by ‘promoting Zionist Christianity’, and in May 2018, Judge Babee and Judge Zargar upheld these sentences. Judge Babaee and Judge Zargar are both alleged to have played prominent roles in the crackdown on freedom of expression in Iran,” CSW reported.
Question: What do you believe so strongly that you would be willing to go to jail — a jail in which torture is a routine occurrence, according to human rights groups — rather than renounce your belief?
“Politics ain’t bean bag.” True, but neither is prison and torture. Or being deprived of the means to make a living. Think about it. The First Amendment is there for all of us.