Our deal with Iran

The Obama administration has engineered, with other nations, an agreement with Iran that would ease economic sanctions against that country in return for certain restrictions on its nuclear weapons program–for six months.  Israel and Sunni Muslim nations disapprove.  So does Charles Krauthammer, whose critique can be found after the jump.  [Read more…]

80 lashes for receiving Communion

Aspects of our faith that are so commonplace that we often take them for granted are serious crimes in other countries, bringing horrible punishments.  Yesterday we blogged about North Korea executing people for simply possessing a Bible.  In Iran, since Islam forbids the consumption of alcohol, if you are a Muslim convert, receiving Christ’s blood in the wine of Holy Communion is punishable by 80 lashes.  Evangelism–that is, the crime of spreading Christianity–can mean 3 years and 8 months in prison.  Would we pay prices like that for our Bibles, for Holy Communion, for witnessing to our faith? [Read more…]

A moderate wins the presidency of Iran

In a rare bit of good news for American foreign policy, a moderate was elected to the presidency of Iran, replacing the radical Islamist Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who was term limited out of office. [Read more…]

America’s enemy list update

Hugo Chavez, the Marxist anti-American president of Venezuela, has died of cancer.   Meanwhile, nuclear-armed North Korea has said it will cancel the 1953 cease-fire that ended the Korean War, due to American sanctions and joint military exercises with South Korea.  And Secretary of State John Kerry rattled his  sabre at Iran, threatening military action if Iran acquires nuclear weapons and announcing that the U.S. will give non-lethal aid to Syrian rebels. [Read more…]

A powder keg

Tensions in Israel are building over Iran’s nuclear weapons program.  The USA has been trying to get Israel to stand down.  Meanwhile, a big fleet comprised of American, British, and other allied naval forces is assembling in the Straits of Hormuz for war games and to be there just in case war breaks out and Iran tries to shut off a major oil route:

Battleships, aircraft carriers, minesweepers and submarines from 25 nations are converging on the strategically important Strait of Hormuz in an unprecedented show of force as Israel and Iran move towards the brink of war.

Western leaders are convinced that Iran will retaliate to any attack by attempting to mine or blockade the shipping lane through which passes around 18 million barrels of oil every day, approximately 35 per cent of the world’s petroleum traded by sea.

A blockade would have a catastrophic effect on the fragile economies of Britain, Europe the United States and Japan, all of which rely heavily on oil and gas supplies from the Gulf.

The Strait of Hormuz is one of the world’s most congested international waterways. It is only 21 miles wide at its narrowest point and is bordered by the Iranian coast to the north and the United Arab Emirates to the south.

In preparation for any pre-emptive or retaliatory action by Iran, warships from more than 25 countries, including the United States, Britain, France, Saudi Arabia and the UAE, will today begin an annual 12-day exercise.

They will practise tactics in how to breach an Iranian blockade of the strait and the force will also undertake counter-mining drills.

The multi-national naval force in the Gulf includes three US Nimitz class carrier groups, each of which has more aircraft than the entire complement of the Iranian air force.

via Armada of British naval power massing in the Gulf as Israel prepares an Iran strike – Telegraph.

Should Israel strike at Iran’s nuclear sites?  If they do, won’t that spark a bigger war?  Should the United States try to prevent Israel from taking that step or just stay 0ut of it?  And, to consider another flashpoint, what should America do, if anything, while Syria’s government is slaughtering its citizens who are trying to over the Baathist regime?

Iranian pastor under death sentence freed

That Iranian pastor who had been sentenced to death in Iran (we blogged about him here and here) has been freed after three years in prison:

Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani has been released from prison in Iran, where he has been held for almost three years on charges of apostasy from Islam, as well as evangelizing. On its website, “Present Truth Ministries” quotes a Luther-like Nardakhani in court:

“During one hearing he was told to recant and he responded, ‘You ask me to recant. Recant means to return. What do you wish me to return to? The blasphemy that I was in before Christ?’ The judges responded, ‘To the religion of your ancestors, Islam.’ Youcef replied, ‘I cannot.’”

The effort to get Nadarkhani released seems to have been spearheaded by the American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ, obviously not to be confused with the ACLU). This American organization offers legal services when rights, especially religious ones, have been inhibited. The ACLJ was in contact with the U.S. State Department and was instrumental in making people aware of Nadarkhani’s imprisonment (especially through Twitter, with over 3 million people re-tweeting the ACLJ’s “Tweets for Youcef.”)

via Steadfast Lutherans » Steadfast Guest — After Three Years, Freedom by Pr. Timothy Winterstein.

HT:  Anthony Sacramone, who comments, “Most of us will never have to endure anything more onerous than a snarky remark or a sneer as the price of our faith, so take a moment to consider a man who clearly counted the cost of following Christ and persevered under terrible duress for three years—and who also had a wife and two young sons who no doubt suffered terribly as well.  Of course, Pastor Nadarkhani was already free long before his captors opened the gates of his cell.”

For more details, see this.