(ACLJ) Free Saeed Abedini: Time for a Unified National and International Response

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Our government is coalescing around Pastor Saeed, but it is still moving too slow and engaging at too low a level. Two weeks ago 49 Members of Congress (37 from the House and 12 Senators) sent letters to the State Department urging “strong and sustained” advocacy on Saeed’s behalf. On Friday we reported that the State Department and White House made near-identical comments within moments of each other that clearly and unequivocally called for Pastor Saeed’s release.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalizationLaw & Legal IssuesChurch/State MattersReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.Middle EastIran

7 Comments
Posted January 31, 2013 at 7:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]



1. Jim the Puritan wrote:

Mennonite pastor Kenneth Miller is presently imprisoned by the United States government for helping a woman and her daughter escape the homosexual lifestyle.  No attention is given to the persecution against Pastor Miller.

January 31, 2:14 pm | [comment link]
3. Jeremy Bonner wrote:

Jim,

The case you cite suggests that it’s not imprisonment for belief that’s at issue, but for refusal to testify. There’s an argument for refusing to cooperate with a court, but it carries penalties. Pastor Saeed is in prison for proselytizing and that’s a big difference. The recent cases in Canada involving religious speech would seem to be more comparable.

February 1, 7:35 am | [comment link]
4. Jim the Puritan wrote:

Is it really different?  Both are in prison for helping people come to Christ and live the Christian life.  In Miller’s case, that he and others helped the woman and her daughter, after she became a Christian, escape her former lesbian partner who first had joint custody over her biological child and then was given the child by the courts (Miller has been sentenced to 3 years in prison for helping the mother and daughter, and is now in prison indefinitely for refusing to tell the government the identities of the other people who helped the mother and daughter escape from the United States).  The crime and punishment is the same, we just put a little different veneer on it by giving homosexuality (instead of Islam) legal protection and privilege and denying the legal validity of Christian beliefs.  I’m sure what is happening to Saeed in Iran is just as “legal.”  To me, the two cases are very similar.  We just don’t recognize the same persecution going on here because it is happening right under our own noses.

February 1, 2:14 pm | [comment link]
5. Jeremy Bonner wrote:

So if the situation had been reversed and the birth mother had remained a lesbian and tried to deny access to her ex-gay partner, that would also be fine? I would think most of us would think that wrong, even though the non-gay partner had no blood tie. In the course of the civil partnership a relationship with the child was built with both women. The mother had custody and could surely set the example for her daughter could follow. There is nothing in the article to suggest abuse or misconduct on the part of the lesbian partner (perhaps there is elsewhere), just that she was a lesbian. If being a sinner capable of setting a bad example, just like the rest of us, is the criteria for exclusion, who’s left?

One could wish that such civil partnerships did not exist in the first place, but they do. I have qualms about treating something entered into in good faith as if it were of none effect - it just reinforces the prejudices of those who resort to abduction to get round unfavorable custody battles in heterosexual marriages.

February 1, 2:41 pm | [comment link]
6. Jim the Puritan wrote:

There was testimony, including that of the court’s own advocate appointed to protect the interests of the child in one of the proceedings, that being placed with the former girlfriend was harmful for the child and that abuse may have been going on (I obviously don’t know one way or the other, but you can see that here):  http://www.lifesitenews.com/news/experts-testify-to-trauma-experienced-by-isabella-miller-in-sworn-testimony/

But this is political, not about “custody” or the best environment for the child. The government is also determined to go after anyone who assisted, as well as their legal counsel, to make an example out of all of them, and perhaps try to shut down a Christian legal firm and law school that allegedly also assisted.  The government is now trying to force Pastor Miller to turn government’s witness against these others, which Pastor Miller, to his credit, refuses to do.  I believe the goal is to put yet another chilling effect on opposition to homosexuality and send the message that those who take actions to oppose homosexuality will be punished:

“The prosecutors presented evidence that others had worked with Mr. Miller to help Ms. Miller flee. Chief among those alleged to have taken part was a businessman in Virginia, Philip Zodhiates. Telephone records suggest that Mr. Zodhiates was in touch with Ms. Miller for months and drove her and her daughter to the Canadian border for their escape.

Mr. Zodhiates has not been indicted, and declined to comment.

Telephone records also indicated that as he drove home from the border, Mr. Zodhiates tried to call a cellphone number registered to Liberty Counsel, an evangelical legal group.

That cellphone number has sometimes been used by Mathew D. Staver, the founder of Liberty Counsel, dean of the Liberty University Law School in Lynchburg, Va., and a leader of Ms. Miller’s defense team. 
http://www.nytimes.com/2012/08/15/us/pastor-kenneth-l-miller-convicted-in-parental-kidnapping-case.html?_r=0

To put it in an American historical context, what do you think should have been done to those people along the Underground Railway who sheltered black runaway slaves as they attempted to escape to freedom?

February 1, 3:33 pm | [comment link]
7. Jeremy Bonner wrote:

If that testimony is true, then I agree there was justifiable cause for concern; a pity the court ignored it. If it was ignored for purely political reasons then that is certainly reprehensible.

I think the answer to your last question is phrased wrongly. How should those persons detected in assisting the Underground Railrosd have behaved if brought to trial?

February 1, 6:16 pm | [comment link]
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