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Billy Graham writes letter to Iranian president

Posted September 26, 2013

Evangelist Billy Graham has penned a letter to Iranian president Hassan Rouhani, urging him to release an American pastor who was imprisoned in September 2012. 

Graham said in his letter that Saeed Abedini was working to build an orphanage in Iran when he was arrested and later sentenced to eight years in prison. 

"As a religious leader, I have often spoken about the need for greater understanding and peace among nations of the world," Graham wrote. "I fear, however, that the current publicity surrounding the continued imprisonment of Pastor Abedini, an American citizen, may further harm the already fragile relationship that exists between our two nations."

Iran said Monday it had freed 80 prisoners arrested in political crackdowns, offering another potential diplomatic boost for the country's new president and his outreach to the West at this week's United Nations gathering.

Graham called the Monday announcement "encouraging," but said he was concerned about the relationship between the United States and Iran because of the publicity Abedini's case has received.

Published as an ad Thursday in The New York Times, Graham's letter coincides with numerous prayer vigils planned for Thursday in more than 70 American cities. 

"I join them by respectfully asking you to release Pastor Abedini from prison," Graham wrote. "Such an action would, I believe, have a positive impact in our nation, and might well be perceived by our leadership as a significant step in reducing tensions."

37 Comments

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  • I Love Global Warming Sep 27, 7:57 p.m.

    "Billy Graham has cozied up to presidents and bashed Jews, homosexuals, and other over the years"

    Is being a spiritual mentor to a president of the United States immoral? As for the rest of what you claim, they are just outright lies. Please provide proof.

  • peace2u Sep 27, 11:19 a.m.

    Billy Graham has cozied up to presidents and bashed Jews, homosexuals, and other over the years--he is, after all, a flawed human being--however, it seems reasonable in this matter to use his influence to possibly have someone released from prison.

  • sillywabbitthepatriot Sep 27, 9:41 a.m.

    Pastor Abdeini was born in Iran and his parents live there. He was visiting them and trying to start an orphanage when he was arrested for being a Christian.

    Muslims in the USA don't get arrested for spreading their faith, even if their neighbors dislike the idea.

  • Inside The Beltline Sep 26, 7:32 p.m.

    The man was selfish to do this and put his wife and children to deal with this anguish. As I said before, actions have consequences. I don't applaud his improper imprisonment but I do have to say it is his own fault. He had to go through extraordinary means to get to Iran. I am Christian but I RESPECT others' beliefs.

  • Vote for Pedro Sep 26, 7:20 p.m.

    You'd probably be up in arms if Islamists were moving into each and every county to spread their good word here in North Carolina. Would your prayers apply to them too, or does that only apply to people of other beliefs going into foreign lands to tell people they are wrong and they need to do as you tell them to?
    Inside The Beltline

    Lighten up friend. This is good if it creates dialogue that helps ease tensions between countries in any way and helps get this pastor freed. Wrongful imprisonment is just that, wrongful. I certainly don't agree with all of Graham's views, but that's not what this is about. It's about helping to get another American back to his family. His wife and children are probably terribly frightened for him. Politics doesn't have to injected into every issue.

  • RaisinCake Sep 26, 6:49 p.m.

    "Prayers for the paster and missionaries around the world spreading the good word." -rhf3383

    You'd probably be up in arms if Islamists were moving into each and every county to spread their good word here in North Carolina. Would your prayers apply to them too, or does that only apply to people of other beliefs going into foreign lands to tell people they are wrong and they need to do as you tell them to?

    Inside The Beltline

    ---This is exactly what I'm talking about. You have to have the last word and you can't even be decent. Please quit if all you can do is complain, whine, and just be rude. Thank You.

  • timexliving Sep 26, 5:56 p.m.

    "Matthew 23:38-- "Even so you also outwardly appear righteous to men, but inside you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness."

    Unbroken, please provide proof of Dr. Graham's hypocrisy and lawlessness. You may want to remove the plank from your own eye before trying to remove the splinter from your neighbor's eye.

  • timexliving Sep 26, 5:53 p.m.

    "-probably so. It's awful for any government to deny basic rights to any human, but I doubt any sensible American homosexual would travel to Iran."

    I agree ITB. Especially since Iranian Muslims execute homosexuals.

  • GravyPig Sep 26, 5:52 p.m.

    "I wonder how many of you hateful people have given one thought about the American pastor imprisoned in Iran for helping start an orphanage? If a person was imprisoned in Iran for simply being a homosexual, you'd be up in arms demanding their freedom."

    To answer your hypothetical:

    We would like all improperly imprisoned people to be free. However, this is what happens in volatile countries like Iran and those people know those risks before they go.

    Unfairly imprisoned is unfairly imprisoned, doesn't matter why or who you are because you shouldn't be in prison in the first place.

  • Inside The Beltline Sep 26, 5:36 p.m.

    "Prayers for the paster and missionaries around the world spreading the good word." -rhf3383

    You'd probably be up in arms if Islamists were moving into each and every county to spread their good word here in North Carolina. Would your prayers apply to them too, or does that only apply to people of other beliefs going into foreign lands to tell people they are wrong and they need to do as you tell them to?

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