CNSNews â€” The United States government voiced concern Wednesday about the plight of an Iranian Christian pastor sentenced to death for apostasy. Reports say hisÂ appeal to a higher court resulted in a stark choice â€” disavow the Christian faith or die.
â€œWhile Iranâ€™s leaders hypocritically claim to promote tolerance, they continue to detain, imprison, harass, and abuse those who simply wish to worship the faith of their choosing,â€ State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said in a statement.
â€œWe join the international community in continuing to call on the Iranian government to respect the fundamental rights of all its citizens and uphold its international commitments to protect them.â€
Yosef (Youcef) Nadarkhani, a 32 year-old father and evangelical pastor who embraced Christianity at age 19, was arrested in October 2009, reportedly for objecting to the teaching of Islam to Christian children at Iranian schools. The indictment against him accused him of organizing evangelistic meetings, sharing his faith and inviting others to convert, running a house church and â€œdenying Islamic values.â€
He was sentenced to death by hanging late last year, and he lodged an appeal with Iranâ€™s Supreme Court.