Dr. Richard Land

ERLC’s Research Institute Comments on Release of Iranian Pastor After Spending Three Years in Prison

October 11, 2012

The Research Institute of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission released a statement today about Iran’s decision to release Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani after imprisoning him for 1,062 days on charges of apostasy. 

The statement calls for the Iranian government to publicly apologize to Nadarkhani, and for every nation to release prisoners whose only offense relates to freedom of thought, conscience and religion.

“We rejoice with Pastor Nadarkhani and his family over his release,” the Research Institute fellows wrote in the statement. “Nevertheless, we are outraged that Iran has subjected him to such barbaric treatment. Iran’s behavior during this entire period violated one of the most basic of human rights—the freedom of conscience.”

Richard Land, ERLC president, also weighed in on Nadarkhani’s release.

“Long ago 17th century Baptist Roger Williams declared that for any man to coercively interfere with another man’s relationship with his God is rape of the soul,” Land said. “As Baptists we call on all people of good will to join together in calling for worldwide recognition of this God-given right of individual conscience.”

In September 2012, the Iranian authorities dropped the original apostasy charges, and Nadarkhani was instead found guilty of evangelizing Muslims. The decision came after public pressure from Congress, President Obama and the international community to release Nadarkhani without harm.

To read the full statement, visit the ERLC website at http://erlc.com/article/statement-release-nadarkhani/.