Freedom or Faith? Religion, Death or Life?


Did you know that it is Clergy Appreciation Month? I am praying for my sisters and brothers who faithfully proclaim the WORD of God every Sunday, and for every one of them who do so under threat of death, persecution, prison, and personal attack. Will you join me?

Bush: It’s just too hard to go to church 

– – – – Going to church is hard.

Every week they expect you to be there Saturday night or Sunday morning for sometimes up to three hours.

It’s unreasonable.

We’re busy people. We work hard during the week.

All of the great movies are released on the weekends and now there are football games. They only play for about four months. Of course, then there is basketball and we like to take it easy in the summers.

People need their “me” time.

It’s just too hard to go to church.

Americans are so spoiled that they don’t even have the ability to envision how good they really have it. Freedom is assumed. Our problems are luxuries to other people.

In Iran right now, a Christian pastor faces execution by hanging for refusing to recant his faith. He has been convicted of apostasy — a total departure from one’s religion. He was raised by Muslim parents and converted to Christianity at the age of 19. The age of understanding for Muslims is considered to be 15. So he was an official Muslim for 4 years, thus converting to Christianity is apostasy.

He is guilty. But no one should ever be charged for religious beliefs.

Christianity is not tolerated in Iran. Those who share Christian beliefs there do so by meeting in “churches” in each other’s homes. Most often, those meetings are kept private for obvious reasons.

Yousef Nadarkhani led a group of about 400 people.

“The judge kept asking my client to say, ‘I have renounced Christianity and I recognize Islam as rescinder of all other regions,’ and he kept saying ‘I won’t say that,’” said his attorney.

Nadarkhani faces a hangman’s noose, yet he won’t utter a sentence that could save his life and free him after more than a year in jail.

I bet he is glad he hasn’t had to get up so early on Sunday mornings for the past year.

It isn’t like Nadarkhani didn’t know this was possible. As recently as 2008, a man has been hanged for apostasy. In October of that same year, the Iran parliament passed a measure that would codify the practice. The vote was 196 to 7.

But despite knowing the risk, Nadarkhani led a group of Christian worshippers in the country that is richly deserving of inclusion in George W. Bush’s Axis of Evil.

Iran’s Supreme Court could modify the sentence or release the pastor. However, thus far, all they have done is offer him an additional chance to turn his back on Christianity and profess a newfound faith in Islam.

There has been a crackdown on Christians in Iran lately. Some estimate that as many as 100,000 Christians live and worship there.

Nadarkhani brought extra attention to himself by being more public in his beliefs — much like the Apostle Stephen who was stoned by Jewish leaders after heated public arguments about what Jesus and his crucifixion and resurrection meant to their religion.

The Apostle Paul was present for the stoning of Stephen and he would soon become a leading force in the spread of Christianity.

The trial of Nadarkhani in 2011 could inspire a similar passion in a young follower.

Hopefully, it won’t require his execution.

Kent Bush is publisher of the Augusta (Kan.) Gazette.

To read the article in it’s original posting: Bush: It’s just too hard to go to church.

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