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Faith leaders urge Obama to act on Iran

WASHINGTON (BP)–A coalition of Christian leaders, including several Southern Baptists, has urged President Obama to act quickly to stop Iran from producing a nuclear weapon.

The Sept. 23 letter from Christian Leaders for a Nuclear Free Iran called on the president to: 1) inform Americans of the threat an Iranian nuclear weapons program would pose to the United States and the world, 2) completely enforce all sanctions enacted by the U.S. government against the extremist Islamic regime, and 3) make certain United Nations members strictly invoke sanctions.

The coalition pointed to reports by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) that Iran has processed enough uranium at its primary facility for two nuclear weapons and is seeking to develop ballistic missile technology that would enable it to deliver a nuclear warhead.

“The acceleration of its uranium enrichment and advanced military applications suggest we are in the eleventh hour,” the coalition’s letter said.

“We have supported peaceful and diplomatic efforts to avert this crisis,” they said. “We strongly supported the passage of additional economic sanctions against Iran by the United States, European Union, and the United Nations. But Iran continues to mock the international community’s opposition to its nuclear programs.

“Time is running out.”

Southern Baptist signers of the letter were Richard Land, president of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission (ERLC); former SBC president Jack Graham, pastor of Prestonwood Baptist Church in Plano, Texas; Barrett Duke, the ERLC’s vice president for public policy and research; Jay Dennis, pastor of Church at the Mall in Lakeland, Fla.; conservative resurgence leader Paul Pressler; and former North American Mission Board President Bob Reccord, now president of Total Life Impact Ministries.

Additional signers included Chuck Colson, founder of Prison Fellowship; Gary Bauer, president of American Values; Pat Robertson, chairman of the Christian Broadcasting Network; Penny Nance, chief executive officer of Concerned Women for America; and Jordan Sekulow, director of international operations for the American Center for Law and Justice.

The coalition’s letter was issued on the same day Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad suggested in a speech to the U.N. General Assembly that some in the U.S. government may have planned the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks to justify aggressive military action on behalf of Israel, The Washington Post reported. The U.S. delegation walked out in response to his comments.

Ahmadinejad depicted the U.S. military response in Afghanistan and Iraq as an overreaction to the terrorist attacks, according to The Post.

Rep. Trent Franks, R.-Ariz., said Ahmadinejad’s remarks “spoke volumes, demonstrating that the radical Iranian regime is well aware of President Obama’s astonishing refusal to confront the world’s number one state sponsor of terrorism over their continued pursuit of a nuclear weapons capability.”

The Iranian president has been especially provocative toward Israel, denying the Holocaust and threatening to destroy the Jewish state.

Last year, Christian Leaders for a Nuclear Free Iran called on Congress to pass stronger sanctions against Iran’s oil-related imports. Congress adopted such legislation, and Obama signed it into law in July. The Comprehensive Iran Sanctions, Accountability and Divestment Act directs the president to impose sanctions on anyone who knowingly enables Iran to continue its domestic oil production or who aids in the importation of oil products to the country.

Iran is one of only eight countries to be classified by the U.S. State Department as “countries of particular concern,” a designation reserved for the world’s worst violators of religious liberty.
Compiled by Tom Strode, Washington bureau chief for Baptist Press.

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