Conservative Christians urge sanctions on Iran
A coalition of conservative Christian leaders is lobbying the House of Representatives to pass “tough sanctions” to keep Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons.
"Now that supermajorities in the House and Senate have made their support for sanctions known, and now that the Iranian regime has made its increasing defiance clear to the world, the time for Congress to act has arrived," Richard Land, president of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, said in a statement.
The letter urges the House to pass sanctions on foreign companies that export refined petroleum products, including gasoline, to Iran; help maintain Iran’s domestic refining capacity; provide ships or shipping services to transport such products; underwrite those shipments to Iran; or finance or broker those shipments, and to consider “other, targeted sanctions as may be required to demonstrate our seriousness to the Iranian regime.”
“As the clock runs out, we must remember that Iran remains the world’s leading state sponsor of terror, is funding Hezbollah and Hamas in Lebanon and Gaza, has sought to destabilize democratic and Western-leaning regimes throughout the Middle East, is currently arresting and detaining political opponents, actively persecutes its Christian citizens, has shot protestors in cold blood in the streets, and its president has denied the Holocaust and vowed to wipe Israel off the face of the earth,” the letter concludes. “We speak out today on behalf of millions of Christians who believe that the interests of peace and security would best be served by our elected representatives sending a powerful signal that this tyrannical Iranian regime shall never threaten the world with nuclear weapons.”
Signers include Chuck Colson of Prison Fellowship Ministries and BreakPoint, Pat Robertson of Christian Broadcasting Network, Richard Land of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, Bill Donohue of the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights, Wendy Wright of Concerned Women for America, Gary Bauer of American Values, Tom Minnery of Focus on the Family, John Hagee of the Cornerstone Church in San Antonio, and Jordan Sekulow of the American Center for Law and Justice.
The letter follows, after the jump.
• Hon. Nancy Pelosi
Speaker of the House of Representatives
• Hon. John A. Boehner
House Minority Leader
• Hon. Howard L. Berman
Chairman, House Foreign Relations Committee
• Ileana Ros-Lehtinen
Ranking Member, House Foreign Relations Committee
December 10, 2009
Dear Member of Congress:
We write to you today as Christian leaders, deeply concerned about Iran obtaining nuclear weapons, and urge you to bring legislation to the floor of the House and Senate that will impose meaningful sanctions against the Iranian regime unless and until Iran abandons its efforts to develop nuclear weapons.
At the onset of his diplomatic effort with Iran this spring, President Obama said that "by the end of the year we should have some sense whether or not these discussions are starting to yield significant benefits,” and specifically held out the prospect of sanctions against Tehran "to ensure that Iran understands we are serious." That deadline is mere days away, and just as President Obama said, Tehran needs proof we are serious.
In a report issued November 26, the IAEA Director General reluctantly concluded that talks meant to steer Iran’s nuclear program away from weapons development had come to a dead end because Iran has repeatedly lied about the extent of its nuclear enrichment program. This was most recently demonstrated by the discovery of a secret Iranian nuclear facility, the existence of which Iran has repeatedly denied. The IAEA member nations that "there has been no movement on remaining issues of concern which need to be clarified for the agency to verify the exclusively peaceful nature of Iran's nuclear program," and that the IAEA has "effectively reached a dead end, unless Iran engages fully with us." As you know, the "issues of concern" to which the IAEA referred are the growing body of evidence that the Iranian regime has experimented with nuclear weapons programs, including missile-delivery systems and tests of explosives that could serve as nuclear-bomb detonators.
Powerful voices within the Iranian government have responded with defiance to the IAEA report and its resolution condemning Iran’s secret nuclear-enrichment plant in Qom. On November 30, the Speaker of Iran’s parliament, Ali Larijani, suggested Iran will withdraw from the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. And, the head of Iran's Atomic Energy Organization, Ali Akbar Salehi, said that, as a direct response to the IAEA resolution, Iran intends to build an additional 10 nuclear enrichment facilities – which would give Iran a total of 500,000 centrifuges, enough to produce over 150 bombs a year.
The stakes are exceedingly high. A nuclear-armed Iran is almost certain to initiate an arms race with other Middle Eastern and Arab nations who have reason to fear the religious, political and military ambitions of Iran’s extremist leaders. As the world's leading state sponsor of international terror, we must assume Iran will sell or give nuclear weapons to extremist groups that are declared and demonstrated enemies to America and her allies.
As demonstrated by their co-sponsorship of implementing legislation, an overwhelming, bipartisan consensus exists among your colleagues in the House and Senate in support of sanctions on foreign companies that: export refined petroleum products, including gasoline, to Iran; help maintain Iran’s domestic refining capacity; provide ships or shipping services to transport such products; underwrite those shipments to Iran; or finance or broker those shipments. Although these proposed sanctions are a serious start, we urge you to consider other, targeted sanctions as may be required to demonstrate our seriousness to the Iranian regime.
There is an overwhelming bipartisan consensus in Congress in favor of these sanctions. President Obama’s December 31 deadline is days away. And the IAEA has concluded that diplomatic efforts have reached a dead end. It is time for you to bring legislation implementing these sanctions to the floor for a vote. Additionally we urge you to make your actions and concerns known to the United Nations Security Council and our allies in the international community who share a common interest in preventing Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons.
As the clock runs out, we must remember that Iran remains the world’s leading state sponsor of terror, is funding Hezbollah and Hamas in Lebanon and Gaza, has sought to destabilize democratic and Western-leaning regimes throughout the Middle East, is currently arresting and detaining political opponents, actively persecutes its Christian citizens, has shot protestors in cold blood in the streets, and its president has denied the Holocaust and vowed to wipe Israel off the face of the earth. We speak out today on behalf of millions of Christians who believe that the interests of peace and security would best be served by our elected representatives sending a powerful signal that this tyrannical Iranian regime shall never threaten the world with nuclear weapons.
Dr. Pat Robertson, President of Christian Broadcasting Network
Chuck Colson, chairman, BreakPoint
Richard Land, President of Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, Southern Baptist Convention
Tom Minnery, Senior Vice President of Government and Public Policy at Focus on the Family
Dr. John Hagee, Cornerstone Church, San Antonio, Texas
Wendy Wright, President of Concerned Women for America
Colin A. Hanna, President of Let Freedom Ring
Michael Little, President of Christian Broadcasting Network
Anthony Verdugo, Founder and Executive Director of Christian Family Coalition
C. Preston Noell, III, President of Tradition, Family, Property, Inc.
Micah Clark, Executive Director of American Family Association of Indiana
Michael Novak, Author, Scholar and awarded 1994 Templeton Prize for Progress in Religion
Matthew Staver, Founder and Chairman of Liberty Counsel
Dr. Benny Tate, Senior Pastor, Rock Springs Church, Milner, GA
Jack Rohrer, President of Virginia Faith and Freedom Coalition
Robert E. Reccord, President of Total Life Impact Ministries
Ron Shuping, Executive VP of Programming, The Inspiration Networks
William A. Donohue, President of The Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights
Ronald J. Rychlak, MDLA Professor of Law, University of Mississippi, School of Law
Diana L. Banister, Vice President and Partner of Shirley & Banister Public Affairs
Deal Hudson, Executive Director of Catholic Advocate
Mark A. Smith, President of Ohio Christian University
Dr. Richard Lee, President of There’s Hope America
Jack Whelan, Chairman of Culture of Life Foundation
Peter Huessy, President of GeoStrategic Analysis of Potomac, Maryland
Bobby Eberle, President of GOPUSA
Bud Hansen, Papal Foundation
Jeffrey Karls, President of Magdalen College
David R. Carlin, Professor of Sociology and Philosophy at the Community College of Rhode Island
Al Kresta, Executive Producer of Ave Maria Radio
Cortes E. DeRussy, Bronxville, NY, Former Board Chair, Crisis Magazine
Dr. James Merritt, Senior Pastor, Cross Pointe Church, Duluth, GA
Rev. Louis P. Sheldon, Chairman of Traditional Values Coalition
Jordan Sekulow, Director of International Operations at American Center for Law and Justice
Gary L. Bauer, President of American Values
Jim Martin, 60-Plus