An American preacher is being held in Iran, charged with violations of national security. Specifically, Saeed Abedini was sentenced to 8 years in prison for converting from Islam to Christianity. According to his wife, Abedini was offered freedom if he would renounce his faith in Christ. He refused.
This horrible affair strikes at the heart of Americans because we deeply value our freedom to practice whatever faith we choose. Many of the first settlers to these shores came to escape religious persecution in their homelands. Freedom of religion is enshrined in the Bill of Rights as a foundation to the the freedoms we enjoy in the United States. Freedom of religion is one of the most sacred cherished freedoms we enjoy.
At least, it used to be.
At Lackland Air Force base in San Antonio, Texas, a 19 year Air Force Master Sargent has been arrested, given his rights, and ordered to face charges in a court martial proceeding because he filed a religious discrimination case against his commanding officer. The CO wanted to punish a subordinate because the man had expressed faith-based reservations about homosexuality. Monk disagreed and was ordered to reveal his personal opinions about homosexuality. He refused and was relieved of his duties. He filed a religious discrimination complaint against the CO and was then ordered to face the court martial. The religious persecution story can be read in its entirety. I encourage you to so.
Others have faced persecutions for decades and we have been insulated. No more. Opposition to the sin of homosexuality is now sufficient reason to ignore the Bill of Rights and attack Christians. You will notice in the story that not only are homosexuals now a protected class, so too are Muslims.
For the Christian, we must remember the words of Jesus:
“Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 5:10)
“Be faithful unto death and I will give you the crown of life” (Revelation 2:10)
There is no reason to believe that our time here will become any easier. Evil men will grown worse and worse (2 Timothy 3:13). But our glory is not here. It is with Christ who is risen. Let us be in prayer and in preparation for difficult days.