Nuclear Summer

AS YOU READ this column, diplomats from the United States, the United Kingdom, France, Russia, China, Germany, and the European Union are working with their Iranian counterparts to finalize a deal concerning Iran’s nuclear program. I strongly believe that Christians should support the framework for this deal, announced in Lausanne, Switzerland, on April 2, as the best chance to prevent Iran from becoming a nuclear-armed state and—equally important—the best chance for the United States to avoid armed conflict with Iran.

In the days following the announcement of this framework, Sojourners authored and published a statement of support, which was signed by more than 50 Christian leaders (see statement here). Part of that statement reads as follows: “It is the sacred responsibility of all those entrusted with political power to pursue, with patient perseverance, every option that makes the destruction of war less possible, in order to protect human life and dignity. This becomes an even more urgent moral and spiritual imperative when we have the chance to prevent the further spread of nuclear weapons, with their terrifying potential of mass destruction ... a goal that reflects the binding commitments made by 191 U.N. member states, including the United States, under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).”

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July 2015
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Why the Wife of Imprisoned Pastor Kept Her Marital Abuse a Secret — Until Now

Nagmeh Abedini. Image via Adelle M. Banks / RNS

The wife of Saeed Abedini, the Iranian-American pastor imprisoned in Iran since September 2012, has had a difficult month.

First Naghmeh Abedini canceled all public appearances after telling supporters by email that her husband had abused her physically, emotionally, and sexually. Twelve days later, she released a statement saying she regretted her previous emails.

“I was under great psychological and emotional distress,” she said.

Republicans Predict Iran Deal Will Gain Them Jewish Votes in 2016

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The head of a national Republican Jewish activist group predicted on Nov. 10 that dissatisfaction with the Iran nuclear deal will increase the GOP's share of the Jewish vote in 2016. His Democratic counterpart argued that Jewish Americans, who overwhelmingly vote for his party, are divided over the deal and prioritize other issues.

The debate took place at one of the largest annual gatherings of Jewish activists in the world — the General Assembly of the Jewish Federations of North America — just hours before an address to the group by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

“I say it with a broken heart and a lot of sadness,” said Republican Jewish Coalition Executive Director Matt Brooks on what he alleged is flagging Democratic support for Israel in recent years.

Support the Iran Deal. It's Time to Be Peacemakers.

Image via /Shutterstock

Here are the politics of the Iran nuclear deal: Congress returns next week from its summer recess, and among the first orders of business will be taking up the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action on Iran’s nuclear program, recently negotiated with Iran in Vienna by the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council plus Germany.

Opponents of the agreement had hoped to use the August break to sway undecided members of Congress. It didn’t happen. Instead, yesterday, Sen. Barbara Mikulski of Maryland became the 34th senator to publicly support the accord— meaning there are enough votes to sustain a presidential veto of any bill intended to kill it.

Now, here is a faith perspective: For Christians, this is a victory for peace and diplomacy over another bloody and destructive war. It is a time when common sense wins over bombast — when reality wins over rhetoric.

340 U.S. Rabbis: ‘We Support This Historic Nuclear Accord’

Image via RNS/REUTERS/Carlos Barria 

For the Jewish people, the pursuit of peace is a fundamental religious duty. Our tradition implores us to "seek peace, and pursue it" (Psalms 34:14); unlike other commandments that obligate us when they come our way, we must pursue peace at every opportunity.

The deal with Iran seeks to prevent Tehran from obtaining a nuclear bomb while also reaffirming the United States’ commitment to the pursuit of peaceful foreign policy solutions. We are not naive about the dangers of Iran’s nuclear program and regional ambitions; we embrace the agreement precisely because it is our best available option to ensure the security of the United States, Israel, and the entire world.

In light of this agreement, we are deeply concerned with the mistaken impression that the current leadership of the American Jewish community is united in opposition to the agreement. Despite what has been portrayed, these leaders do not represent the majority of Jewish Americans who support Congress’ approval of this deal. We, along with many other Jewish leaders, support this historic nuclear accord by the world’s most powerful nations and believe it is our best hope of preventing a nuclear-armed Iran.

Iran Nuclear Deal: Strategic, Scientific — and Christian

Iran Deal Reached

Flags aligned for photo at the U.N. in Vienna on July 14. Photo by European External Action Service /

Later this week, President Obama will deliver a major speech promoting the Iran nuclear agreement at American University. I’m looking forward to the speech, both as an AU alum and someone closely following the upcoming Senate vote on the nuclear agreement. We know President Obama will make the strategic and scientific cases for the deal; I hope he makes the moral case as well.

President Obama has twice chosen the university in northwest D.C. to deliver major speeches, but it was also the site of President Kennedy’s landmark speech on peace and nuclear disarmament in 1963, where he declared, “While we proceed to safeguard our national interests, let us also safeguard human interests” and “the elimination of war and arms is clearly in the interest of both.”

Iran Deal: It's Time for Some Serious Talk

If politicians are letting one person trump the tone of politics, just to go up in the polls or get on the debate stage, that’s very bad news for our nation’s civil discourse.

It certainly isn’t serious talk. Serious talk is “Hard work.” “Difficult negotiations.” “Competing interests.” “Coalitions and diplomacy.” Serious talk recognizes that no agreement, no matter how diligently negotiated, is perfect.

Iran is an enemy – an enemy of America, an enemy of Israel, and an enemy of peace. I believe that. But you need to find ways to make peace with your enemies in order to reduce potential conflict. Choosing war with our enemies as our first option since 9/11 has just made us more enemies.

The question is: what we should do about Iran?

Why the Iran Deal Is a Good Option — and a Christian One

We have a deal. And many of us in the faith community are relieved.

After months of negotiations, missing deadlines, and many stressful final days in Vienna, Iran has agreed to halt its nuclear weapons program for a decade or more, and allow credible international agencies to significantly monitor its behavior. In return, sanctions against Iran will be lifted once it demonstrates compliance on its end. Meanwhile, the West is hopeful that a younger Iranian generation might begin to liberalize the country, prompting a fuller entry into the modern world over the next 10 years. That hope remains to be seen.

Many of us in the faith community have called for diplomacy instead of the only plausible alternative: war with Iran. 

Dear Congress: Support Nuclear Deal with Iran


Image via /Shutterstock

"If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone." (Rom 12:18 NIV) 

Together with forty other organizations, Sojourners is calling on Congress to support the nuclear deal currently being negotiated with Iran. Sojourn have choice to either act to promote peace and restrain Iran from building nuclear weapons or to slide towards war.

"The following organizations, representing millions of Americans, urge you to support the strong nuclear deal being negotiated currently between world powers and Iran," the letter reads.