Politics vs. persecution

Politics vs. PersecutionPush for Iran sanctions concerns missiologists. April issue.

The high-profile group Christian Leaders for a Nuclear-Free Iran is demanding increased economic sanctions against the Islamic regime. But other Christians worry that sanctions could backfire against Iranian believers.

Richard Land, president of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, readily acknowledges the clash of perspectives.

“That is why Southern Baptists deliberately separate our foreign missions and evangelism ministries from public policy advocacy,” Land said. “We have completely different boards of trustees and budgets.”

About 50 high-profile Christian leaders, including Land, Chuck Colson, John Hagee, James Merritt, and Jordan Sekulow, praised recent votes in Congress supporting tougher sanctions. Their January 26 letter urged elected leaders to send “a powerful signal that this tyrannical Iranian regime shall never threaten the world with nuclear weapons.”

But Warren Larson, director of the Zwemer Center for Muslim Studies, leans toward opposing sanctions, which he says “probably punish the poor more than anyone.”

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