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Jay Sekulow - The man whose mission is to protect religious liberty!

Since many years, Mr. Jay Sekulow has been fighting for people's right and it’s due to his sheer efforts that word about his mission to protect religious liberty not just spread out in the United States, but outreached internationally.

Christians had to face racial discrimination, violence and injustice because of practicing their faith. Mr. Jay Sekulow stood up for them and made various contributions to protect their rights. For almost 12 times, he argued in front of the Supreme Court and successfully made several landmark changes.

For the achievements that Mr. Jay Sekulow made during his legal career, he was honored with various awards and recognitions. A few of those recognitions include Townhall magazine named Jay Sekulow in their Townhall of Fame as one of the top lawyers for religious freedom in the United States, Legal Times named him as The 90 Greatest Washington Lawyers of the Last 30 Years and Time magazine named him as one of the 25 Most Influential Evangelicals. Full information at here

ACLJ Calls on Defense Secretary to Cut Ties with Anti-Christian Extremist Used by Pentagon as Advisor on Religious Tolerance

The American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ), which defends religious freedom and the constitution, urged the Secretary of Defense today to cut ties with an anti-Christian extremist whom the Pentagon is using to provide advice on crafting policies on religious tolerance for the armed forces. In a letter to Secretary Chuck Hagel, the ACLJ argues that the views of Mikey Weinstein of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation (MRFF) “do not comport with Supreme Court opinions on permissibly religious expression” and urges Secretary Hagel to discontinue using him as a consultant on religious tolerance.

“Mikey Weinstein’s beliefs and statements are not only offensive, but clearly represent the vehement intolerance that our military should reject,” said Jay Sekulow, Chief Counsel of the ACLJ. “To use him as an advisor in crafting policy for religious tolerance is absurd. Without question, he’s among the world's worst candidates to advise Pentagon officials on religious matters. This extremist has no business advising the Pentagon on any matters – much less the critically important need to protect the religious freedom of our men and women serving in the military.

Weinstein has a long track record of using pejorative language to describe Christians – including words and phrases like “monsters,” “pitiable unconstitutional carpetbaggers,” “bigots,” “stuck pigs,” “evil,” “hate groups,” and “die-hard enemies of the Constitution.”

Weinstein says that Christians exercising their faith in the military “is a national security threat. What is happening … is spiritual rape. And what the Pentagon needs to understand is that it is sedition and treason. It should be punished.”

He also says, “We are fighting the Christian version of the Taliban.”  “We’re fighting Al Qaeda. We’re fighting the Taliban, and we’re turning our own military into that exact same thing.”

In the letter, which is posted here, the ACLJ argues:

“While he claims to be in pursuit of religious tolerance, he readily defames those who disagree with him and accuses them of all manner of evil activities. In truth, Mr. Weinstein's disagreement is with the beliefs held by those he targets, beliefs that he frequently misunderstands and misstates and beliefs he periodically mocks.”

By providing consultative services to the Pentagon, the ACLJ notes that: “In effect, Mr. Weinstein is demanding that the Pentagon adopt his position on what theological beliefs, expression, and conduct are acceptable.”

The ACLJ specifically calls on Secretary Hagel to cut ties with Weinstein immediately:

“In light of the facts and law presented above, it is clear that Mr. Weinstein and the MRFF do not represent views or pursue policies that enhance religious tolerance. Mr. Weinstein advocates extreme positions which he defends with intemperate and ill-considered arguments. He is an extremist who sees constitutional violations where none exist. He is the last person who should be consulted in developing a balanced policy on religious expression in the armed forces of the United States.”

In addition to the letter, the ACLJ has heard from more than 65,000 Americans who are calling on the Obama Administration to end its relationship with Weinstein.

Led by ACLJ Chief Counsel Jay Sekulow, the American Center for Law and Justice is headquartered in Washington, D.C.


SOURCE http://aclj.org/

ACLJ asks Federal Court to Block HHS Mandate for St. Louis Company

The American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ), a pro-life legal organization that focuses on constitutional law, today urged a federal court to grant a preliminary injunction which would halt the enforcement of a Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) mandate that violates the religious beliefs of a Missouri business owner.  The ACLJ filed a federal lawsuit in March against the HHS challenging the mandate, which requires employers to purchase health insurance for their employees that include coverage for contraceptives, sterilization, and abortion-inducing drugs.

The ACLJ represents Frank R. O'Brien and O'Brien Industrial Holdings, LLC (OIH) - a holding company based in St. Louis, Missouri. O'Brien is chairman of OIH which operates a number of businesses that explore, mine, and process refractory and ceramic raw materials, with its products going to more than 40 countries. The company faces a January 1, 2013 deadline to have a new health care policy in place for his 87 employees.

“We’re asking the Court to intervene right now because in a very short time our client, Frank O'Brien, will be faced with a choice no government has the right to impose on him: abandon his business, or abandon his beliefs,” said Francis J. Manion, Senior Counsel of the ACLJ who is representing O’Brien. “The HHS mandate is an unprecedented attack on the religious liberty of millions of Americans. It’s a clear violation of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act and the First Amendment. We are asking the Court to intervene and enjoin the government from continuing to suppress the liberty of Frank O'Brien and his company to run their business in a manner consistent with their religious beliefs.”

In its motion asking the court to grant a preliminary injunction in the case, the ACLJ contends that O’Brien is likely to succeed on the merits of the lawsuit and urges the court to grant the business an exemption to the mandate while the case is litigated.

As Manion put it: “The same government that wants to coerce O'Brien into violating his beliefs is, at the same, exempting millions of other employers from complying with the mandate. This is not only unfair but unconstitutional as well."

“The government has no right to decide which religious believers are ‘religious’ enough to qualify for an exemption from the HHS mandate. Our constitution and laws do not give HHS Secretary Sebelius or any other official the power to start handing out ‘Seals of Government-Approved Godliness’.”

O'Brien, a Catholic, says his religious beliefs provide the framework for the operation of his businesses. The company website states the OIH mission “is to make our labor a pleasing offering to the Lord while enriching our families and society.” OIH’s statement of the company's values begins with the following: “Integrity. Our conduct is guided by the Golden Rule and the Ten Commandments. We will not discriminate based on anyone's personal belief system.”

Calling the mandate a “constitutional and statutory train wreck” – the ACLJ urges the court to grant preliminary injunctive relief “in order to allow O’Brien and OIH to be able to run their business in a manner consistent with the religious values and beliefs that have shaped the company from its start.”

The motion requesting the preliminary injunction is posted here. The federal lawsuit filed in March is available here.

The lawsuit names as defendants, the Department of Health and Human Services and Secretary Sebelius; the Department of the Treasury and Secretary Geithner; and the Department of Labor and Secretary Solis. The ACLJ is being assisted in this lawsuit by the Fidelis Center for Law and Policy, a Chicago-based educational and advocacy group.

Led by ACLJ Chief Counsel Jay Sekulow, the ACLJ is based in Washington, D.C.


SOURCE from ACLJ

ACLJ Adds New Legal Challenge: Federal Suit Filed to Block HHS Mandate for Missouri Companies

The American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ), a pro-life legal organization that focuses on constitutional law, today filed its third direct challenge to the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) on the basis that the mandate violates the religious beliefs of business owners. The lawsuit was filed today in U.S. District Court in Springfield, Missouri and contends that the HHS mandate violates constitutional and statutory rights by requiring four Missouri companies to purchase health insurance for employees that includes coverage for abortion-inducing drugs.

The ACLJ represents Paul and Henry Griesedieck, who own and control four companies that are involved, generally, in the business of wholesale scrap metal recycling and manufacturing of recycling machines. The four companies are: Springfield Iron and Metal located in Springfield, Missouri; American Pulverizer and City Welding – both located in St. Louis, Missouri; and Hustler Conveyor, which is located in O’Fallon, Missouri. The companies employ approximately 175 people who are covered by three separate health insurance policies. The owners, who are Evangelical Christians, contend that the HHS mandate requiring coverage for abortion-inducing drugs – including the “morning-after pill” – violates their religious beliefs.

“The HHS mandate is an unprecedented violation of religious liberty,” said Francis Manion, ACLJ Senior Counsel. “Coercing Americans into paying for services that violate their religious beliefs goes against our nation’s best traditions of respect for the religious diversity of our people. It’s also against the law.”

The lawsuit, posted here, argues that the HHS mandate violates the First Amendment, the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, and the Administrative Procedure Act.

The lawsuit contends that Paul and Henry Griesedieck, the owners of the companies, “are confronted with choosing between complying with its requirements in violation of their religious beliefs, or paying ruinous fines that would have a crippling impact on their ability to survive economically.” The suit argues the mandate forces them to “provide their employees with coverage of those services that Plaintiffs consider immoral on religious grounds.”

Manion added: “Our clients simply want to run their business in a way that doesn't force them to violate their religious beliefs. For the government to require them to choose between abandoning their beliefs or abandoning their business is both unfair and unconstitutional. We will ask the court in this case to uphold our clients' right of religious liberty in the face of this unwarranted abuse of governmental power.”

In the suit, the ACLJ is requesting that the court block implementation of the mandate to prevent it from being enforced when the company renews its health insurance policies in December.

Today’s suit represents the third direct challenge in federal court by the ACLJ to the HHS mandate.

Last week, the ACLJ filed suit on behalf of Korte & Luitjohan Contractors, Inc., a family owned, full-service construction contractor located in Highland, Illinois. The suit contends that the HHS mandate violates the Catholic faith of the company’s owners. And in March, the ACLJ filed a federal suit on behalf of O'Brien Industrial Holdings, LLC (OIH) - a holding company based in St. Louis, Missouri. That case is now before a federal appeals court after a lower court dismissed the suit.

In addition to the direct challenges, the ACLJ has filed numerous amicus briefs backing other legal challenges to the HHS mandate.

Led by ACLJ Chief Counsel Jay Sekulow, the ACLJ is based in Washington, D.C.

Source ACLJ

ACLJ & More Than 108,000 Americans Urged Federal Appeals Court to Declare Two Maryland Laws Targeting Crisis Pregnancy Centers Unconstitutional

The American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ), which is fighting ordinances that target crisis pregnancy centers (CPCs) in cities across America, today urged a federal appeals court to invalidate two Maryland laws in their entirety. The ACLJ today filed an amicus brief at the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit arguing that a federal district court decision issued last year was correct in declaring the Baltimore ordinance unconstitutional. It also urges the invalidation of a similar Montgomery County ordinance.

"What's become clear is the fact that pro-abortion organizations continue to systematically target and punish crisis pregnancy centers across the nation by violating their First Amendment rights," said CeCe Heil, Senior Counsel of the ACLJ. "We have seen a concerted effort by pro-abortion groups to marginalize and distort the message of crisis pregnancy centers. We are asking the full appeals court to protect the First Amendment rights of these centers, and declare the Baltimore and Montgomery County statutes unconstitutional and unenforceable."

A federal district court in 2011 declared the Baltimore law requiring pro-life pregnancy centers to post signs stating they do not refer for abortions or birth-control violates the Freedom of Speech Clause of the First Amendment. A three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit upheld that decision in June 2012. Now, the full appeals court has decided to rehear the case. In today's friend-of-the-court brief representing more than 108,000 Americans, the ACLJ urges the full appeals court to declare the Baltimore and Montgomery County ordinances unconstitutional.

The ACLJ argues the Baltimore law is not only unconstitutional, but was part of an organized plan by pro-abortion organizations to target crisis pregnancy centers across the country. The brief, posted here, argues: "The various laws imposing disclaimer mandates upon CPCs are not based upon actual evidence of a concrete, non-hypothetical problem necessitating government intervention, but rather are based upon a self-reinforcing echo chamber of pro-abortion advocates’ rhetoric and accusations passed from city to city for the purpose of hampering the efforts of CPCs." The Fourth Circuit will also be reviewing a Montgomery County, Maryland resolution that imposes similar restrictions upon crisis pregnancy centers.

The Baltimore appeal comes as the ACLJ continues to litigate its case against New York City’s law targeting crisis pregnancy centers. The ACLJ recently argued before a federal appeals court in the New York City case that the ordinance violates the constitutionally protected rights to freedom of speech, and due process of law, guaranteed to Plaintiffs by the First and Fourteenth Amendments to the U.S. Constitution.

Led by Chief Counsel Jay Sekulow, the American Center for Law and Justice focuses on constitutional law and is based in Washington, D.C. The ACLJ is online at www.aclj.org.

Source ACLJ

Jay Sekulow of the ACLJ has been the undefeated warrior of Liberty and Justice for people

‘As a highly acclaimed attorney, Jay Sekulow has been fighting for many years the legal battle for people’s religious beliefs, bringing them peace and justice.’

As a special guest on many television networks, voicing out programs on major radio stations, making people aware about their religious rights, and fighting the authorities in order to bring justice for the people, is how Jay Sekulow has become an accomplished attorney throughout his career.

Jay Allan Sekulow, one of the most highly acclaimed litigators of present times, is someone who has always stood up for justice. A cum laude graduate from the Mercer University, Jay began his career as a tax trial attorney at the office of the Chief Counsel for the Internal Revenue Service, and soon established himself as a successful lawyer.

His success as an attorney led him to become the Chief Counsel of ACLJ, (American Center for Law and Justice), one of the most respected law firms in the United States of America. His political interests led him to endorse Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign in the year 2007. Jay also played an important part in the nomination of Chief Justice John G. Roberts in the Supreme Court.

Since 1987, Jay has argued numerous times in front of the Supreme Court many critical issues regarding the ‘First Amendment’.

Not limiting his abilities to just a litigator, Jay has emerged as the most influential legal speaker in the country. Jay voices out a popular radio program, ‘Jay Sekulow Live!’ and ACLJ This Week, broadcasted throughout the nation on major radio networks that include Sirius and XM, to name a few.

As one of the National Law Journal’s 100 Most Influential Lawyers in America, Dr. Jay Sekulow is definitely someone you can look up to as a man, who has had the courage to stand for people’s rights!

Contact us
ACLJ - Jay Sekulow
201 Maryland Ave NE
Washington, DC 20090
800-296-4529

More Than 80 Members Of Congress Call On Sec. Of State Kerry To Seek Release Of American Pastor Imprisoned In Iran

The American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ), which focuses on constitutional and human rights law, today applauded a bi-partisan Congressional call for Secretary of State John Kerry to "exhaust every option" in seeking the release of American Pastor Saeed Abedini, who is facing a lengthy prison sentence in Iran because of his Christian faith.

More than 80 U.S. Senators and Representatives have sent a letter to Secretary of State Kerry urging him "to exhaust every possible option to secure Mr. Abedini's immediate release."

"This is a significant bi-partisan effort to secure the freedom of a U.S. citizen who faces incredible torture and life-threatening punishment in one of Iran's most brutal prisons – simply because of his Christian beliefs," said Jordan Sekulow, Executive Director of the ACLJ. "This letter from a politically broad spectrum of members of Congress underscores the real issue here: the U.S. government must protect its citizens and exercise every diplomatic tool available to secure the freedom of Pastor Saeed. We are very grateful for this Congressional support and urge Secretary Kerry to act without delay. Pastor Saeed's life hangs in the balance. Secretary Kerry's personal involvement in this case is critical to securing the freedom of this American."

The ACLJ represents Pastor Saeed's wife, Naghmeh, and their two children who live in the United States.

The letter, which is posted here, calls on Secretary of State Kerry to engage this case directly and without delay.

"As an American citizen, Mr. Abedini deserves nothing less than the exercising of every diplomatic tool of the U.S. government to defend his basic human rights," the letter states.

"Every American citizen traveling or living abroad should have the assurance that the U.S. government will come vigorously to his or her defense if they are unjustly detained or imprisoned. We respectfully request that you continue to use every diplomatic avenue possible, in cooperation with our allies and the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Islamic Republic of Iran, to secure Mr. Abedini's unconditional release and personally and publically condemn his arbitrary detention in a statement."

Taking the lead in this Congressional request is Congressman Trent Franks (R-AZ), Co-Chairman of the International Religious Freedom Caucus, Congressman Henry Waxman (D-CA), Senator Frank R. Lautenberg (D-NJ), and Senator Mark Kirk (R-IL), along with over 80 members of the House and Senate, including Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Congressman Robert Aderholt (R-AL) and Congresswoman Shea-Porter (D-NH).

The letter urges Secretary of State Kerry to exhaust every possible option to secure Pastor Saeed's release.

This Congressional push comes just days after the ACLJ and its European affiliate, the European Centre for Law and Justice (ECLJ), filed a document urging the U.N. Human Rights Council (HRC) in Geneva to call on Iran to immediately release Pastor Saeed.

Pastor Saeed remains imprisoned in Iran and continues to be tortured, beaten and psychologically abused.

The ACLJ continues to work with the U.S. government, the United Nations, and the European Union to secure Pastor Saeed's freedom.

The ACLJ's #SaveSaeed campaign continues to gather momentum – as thousands upon thousands of people all over the world are tweeting, Facebooking, and signing our petition which focuses on bringing additional international pressure on the Iranian government.

Led by ECLJ and ACLJ Chief Counsel Jay Sekulow, the American Center for Law and Justice is headquartered in Washington, D.C. and has affiliated offices in Israel, Russia, Kenya, France, Pakistan, and Zimbabwe. The ACLJ is online at aclj.org.

MEDIA  CONTACTS:  For Print: Gene Kapp  (757) 575-9520 For Broadcast:  Chandler Epp or Alison Geist (770) 813-0000

SOURCE American Center for Law and Justice

ACLJ Urges Senate to Reject Nomination of Chuck Hagel for Secretary of Defense

The American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ), which focuses on constitutional law, said today former Senator Chuck Hagel as Secretary of Defense would put our closest Middle East ally, Israel, at greater risk by creating instability and weakening our military effectiveness in one of the most dangerous regions in the world.

“The fact is former Senator Hagel is the wrong person for this job,” said Jay Sekulow, Chief Counsel of the ACLJ, which has an office in Jerusalem. “His record is deeply troubling. Instead of backing Israel, Hagel refused to sign a letter of support for Israel. He opposed labeling Hezbollah a ‘terrorist organization.’ And, he supported direct dialogue with the terrorist group Hamas. He even voted against labeling Iran's Revolutionary Guard, which has a long history of terrorist activity, a ‘terrorist organization.’ We need a Defense Secretary who understands the critical U.S.-Israel relationship and will work to strengthen it – not weaken it. The country deserves a sound and capable leader who directs our Armed Forces through strength, not appeasement. We urge the Senate to reject the nomination of Hagel.”

The ACLJ has launched a national petition urging members of the Senate to defeat the Hagel nomination.

Led by Chief Counsel Jay Sekulow, the American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ) focuses on constitutional law and is based in Washington, D.C.

ACLJ Files Lawsuit Against CA School District on Behalf of Christian Youth Club

The fate of after-school Bible clubs in California may rest on the outcome of a lawsuit filed today in United States District Court. The suit filed by the American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ) argues that Orange County’s Buena Park School District unconstitutionally rejected a Christian youth club’s request to meet in District facilities on equal grounds with similar, nonprofit, nonreligious youth organizations.

The “Good News Club,” a local affiliate of the international, Bible-centered organization Child Evangelism Fellowship, provides school kids with extracurricular educational programming and recreational activities that teach about life from a biblical perspective. Child Evangelism Fellowship’s West Orange County chapter was denied a request to use district facilities free of charge, despite California Education Code allowing nonprofit, youth-oriented groups to use public school facilities at no cost. Similar nonprofit groups have historically been permitted to meet after hours without charge at Buena Park schools.

“This selective application of policy speaks ill of the Buena Park School District’s respect for and understanding of the Constitution,” said David French, ACLJ Senior Counsel. “Freedom doesn’t stop at the schoolhouse door. Child Evangelism Fellowship has every right to equal treatment and access to public school facilities for its after-school events.”

The ACLJ’s lawsuit, posted here, contends Buena Park School District stands in violation of the First Amendment on free speech, free exercise of religion and establishment of religion grounds. It also asserts that Child Evangelism Fellowship’s Fourteenth Amendment right to equal protection under the law has been impacted by the district’s selective application of its own facility usage policies.

"Ultimately, this case is about legal equality. Religious speech is entitled to the same access as any other kind of speech, and religious students deserve the same treatment as all other students," said French.

Led by Chief Counsel Jay Sekulow, the American Center for Law and Justice focuses on constitutional law and is based in Washington.


SOURCE ACLJ

ACLJ & Wife Of American Pastor Imprisoned In Iran To Testify Before Congress

The American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ), which defends human rights and religious freedom, will testify Friday before a Congressional committee examining religious persecution and focusing on the plight of American Pastor Saeed Abedini , a U.S. citizen imprisoned in Iran because of his Christian faith.

ACLJ Chief Counsel Jay Sekulow , ACLJ Executive Director Jordan Sekulow , and Pastor Saeed's wife, Naghmeh, will testify March 15th before the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission in the House - a bi-partisan commission which is co-chaired by Representatives James McGovern (D-MA) and Frank Wolf (R-VA). The commission exists to "to promote, defend and advocate internationally recognized human rights norms in a nonpartisan manner, both within and outside of Congress, as enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and other relevant human rights instruments."

"We have seen tremendous support from more than 100 members of Congress who understand the growing problem of religious persecution and have called for the release of American Pastor Saeed Abedini ," said Jay Sekulow, Chief Counsel of the ACLJ. "This hearing represents a significant opportunity to elevate Pastor Saeed's plight and to encourage our State Department and White House to engage this case at the highest levels. For a U.S. citizen to be facing years in one of Iran's most deadly prisons - beaten and abused daily - simply because of his Christian faith – is unconscionable. We're grateful for the opportunity to present Pastor Saeed's case and stand up for the human rights and religious freedom of those who are facing similar situations because of their faith."

The ACLJ, which represents Pastor Saeed's wife, Naghmeh and their two children who reside in the U.S., has launched a global effort - including presenting testimony before the U.N. Human Rights Council - in an effort secure his freedom. Nearly 450,000 people already have signed on to our petition demanding his release.

The hearing on Friday, March 15, 2013, is scheduled to begin at 10:00 a.m. and is open to the public and the news media. Additional details about the hearing can be found here.

Led by ACLJ Chief Counsel Jay Sekulow, the American Center for Law and Justice is headquartered in Washington, D.C. and has affiliated offices in Israel, Russia, Kenya, France, Pakistan, and Zimbabwe. The ACLJ is online at aclj.org.

MEDIA  CONTACTS:
For Print: Gene Kapp  (757) 575-9520
For Broadcast:  Chandler Epp or Alison Geist (770) 813-0000

SOURCE American Center for Law and Justice

ACLJ Calls for Release of Iranian-American Christian Pastor Imprisoned in Iran Because of his Religious Beliefs

The American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ), which focuses on constitutional and human rights law, announced today it is representing the wife of an Iranian-American pastor who is being held in an Iranian prison because of his Christian faith. Saeed Abedini, who converted to Christianity, has been indicted by an Iranian court and is facing formal charges that could result in a lengthy prison term or possibly even the death penalty. The ACLJ, which is providing legal representation for his U.S.-based family, is also launching an international campaign calling on the United Nations, the U.S. State Department, and Congress to demand the release of Pastor Saeed.
 
"This is a very troubling pattern that we have seen inside Iran - Christian husbands and fathers who are punished for their religious beliefs," said Jordan Sekulow, Executive Director of the ACLJ. "What makes this particular case so much more disturbing is that Pastor Saeed, who was born and raised in Iran, has been granted U.S. citizenship. He's been in prison for nearly three months simply because of his Christian faith. Now, he’s been indicted by an Iranian court - a development that could very well result in a death sentence. In addition to our legal work, it's important to get this story out - to generate global support for Pastor Saeed and to engage the U.N. and the U.S. government in securing his release."
 
Pastor Saeed, 32, was granted U.S. citizenship in 2010 through marriage to his American wife. He and his wife, Naghmeh, have two children, a 6-year-old daughter and 4-year-old son. In 2008, Pastor Saeed became an ordained minister with the American Evangelistic Association. Naghmeh and the children reside in the western U.S. The Iranian government does not recognize his U.S. citizenship and for 3 years he travelled freely back and forth from Iran until this summer when he was put under house arrest. He was imprisoned in September and this week an Iranian court indicted him on several charges, which have not been made public. In fact, the government has refused to notify Pastor Saeed, his attorney, or his family about what’s included in the specific charges. What’s clear is that Pastor Saeed is in prison because of his Christian faith and his desire to share the Gospel with others.
 
In a recent letter to his family from prison, Pastor Saeed said: "Prison is a test of faith. I was always worried that the storms of this life would break the ship of faith, but when you stand in the steadfast ship of faith, the storms are like a nice breeze. Nothing can break the ship of faith. These walls have created more fervor for me to love others through sharing the Gospel, but more than that, the walls have deepened my love for my Savior. I feel the prayers of all who are praying for me. I hope to one day meet each one of them face to face and embrace them in my arms." Pastor Saeed underwent a life-changing conversion from Islam to Christianity when he was 20 years old. He has been active in proclaiming his faith and sharing his religious beliefs for many years.
 
Pastor Saeed has been harassed by the Iranian government for more than a decade. He had faced numerous confrontations with the Iran's Revolutionary Guard and Intelligence police over the years and had been detained in the past. But his current imprisonment puts Pastor Saeed in grave danger. He had been held in solitary confinement before a recent move to a general prison ward. ACLJ sources confirm Pastor Saeed has been the victim of both physical and emotional abuse, and there is concern for his immediate state of health.
 
Naghmeh Panahi, Pastor Saeed's wife, told the ACLJ that this is a very difficult time for her family. "Our concern is growing with each passing day," Naghmeh said. "This is a very, very difficult time for our family. What is happening is hard to understand. During this season of our Savior’s birth, our family - including our two young children - cannot help but feel a huge gap in our midst. Memories of years past tear at our hearts as we desperately pray for Saeed to come home."
 
Just three months ago, the Iranian government - facing significant international pressure - released Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani, a Christian pastor who spent nearly three years in prison because of his faith. The ACLJ launched a global online campaign to demand his freedom. More than 3-million people agreed to send one Tweet a day in our "Tweet for Youcef" campaign. Sadly, the Iranian attorney who fought for the freedom of Pastor Youcef has been imprisoned for representing him and other oppressed in Iran. Through Twitter, the ACLJ continues to call attention to his plight and demand his release.

In Pastor Saeed's case, the ACLJ is providing legal representation to his U.S.-based family and working with various contacts in Iran on his case. Further, the ACLJ is launching an international campaign urging the United Nations, the U.S. State Department and Congress to get involved and demand Pastor Saeed's release.
 
"We know that the Iranian government is sensitive to international pressure," said Sekulow. "We have seen that in the Pastor Youcef case. Now, we have an Iranian-born Christian, who holds a U.S. passport, being punished for his beliefs. Pastor Saeed's alleged crime: converting to Christianity and proclaiming his Christian faith. His imprisonment and indictment violates international human rights and religious freedom laws. That's why it is so critical to challenge this imprisonment both legally and in the court of public opinion around the world."
 
Led by Chief Counsel Jay Sekulow, the American Center for Law and Justice is headquartered in Washington, D.C. and has affiliated offices in Israel, Russia, Kenya, France, Pakistan, and Zimbabwe.

SOURCE ACLJ

ACLJ: Wife of American Pastor Imprisoned in Iran "Very Encouraged" by Secretary of State Kerry's Statement Calling on Iran to Release..

The American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ), which defends human rights and religious freedom, said today it is pleased that U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has issued a public statement expressing concern for American Pastor Saeed Abedini – a U.S. citizen imprisoned in Iran because of his Christian faith. The statement, issued late today while Secretary Kerry was travelling in the Middle East, calls on Iran to release Pastor Saeed immediately and comes after ACLJ Executive Director Jordan Sekulow called for Secretary Kerry to issue a public statement by today.

"We're very pleased that Secretary of State Kerry made this bold and public statement calling on Iran to release Pastor Saeed," said Jordan Sekulow, Executive Director of the ACLJ. "By speaking out directly on behalf of Pastor Saeed, Secretary Kerry is taking our government's most aggressive action yet in working to secure the freedom of this U.S. citizen. We also appreciate Secretary Kerry calling attention to Pastor Saeed's worsening health. By becoming directly involved in this case, the U.S. sends a powerful message to Iran and our allies – our government will not stand by and abandon one of our own. By engaging the Pastor Saeed case at the highest level, we're hopeful that the State Department will now do everything in its power to secure the release of this U.S. citizen."

"I am very encouraged by Secretary Kerry's statement demanding Saeed's immediate release," said Naghmeh, Pastor Saeed's wife. "I am very happy to read that although Secretary Kerry has asked for medical treatment for Saeed, he does not stop there, and states that the best outcome is Saeed's immediate release. I hope to see more proactive actions from our government. Saeed and I are both proud to be Americans. I am hopeful that this will put more pressure on the Iranian government to act and free Saeed so he can return to our family in the United States."

Secretary Kerry's statement, posted here, comes just one day after the U.S. Ambassador Eileen C. Donahoe specifically cited Pastor Saeed's case at the U.N. Human Rights Council in Geneva and called for his release. It comes one week after the State Department refused to participate in a hearing by the Congressional panel on Pastor Saeed's case.

The statement also comes as a new letter from Pastor Saeed describes the toll the torture and beatings on his health.

Pastor Saeed, 32, has been imprisoned since last fall and is serving an 8-year prison sentence in Evin Prison, one of Iran's most deadly prisons.  The ACLJ has been working in this country and abroad to secure his freedom and has heard from nearly 550,000 people demanding his release.

The ACLJ represents Pastor Saeed's wife, Naghmeh and their two young children in the U.S.

Led by ACLJ Chief Counsel Jay Sekulow, the American Center for Law and Justice is headquartered in Washington, D.C. and has affiliated offices in Israel, Russia, Kenya, France, Pakistan, and Zimbabwe. The ACLJ is online at aclj.org.

MEDIA  CONTACTS:
For Print: Gene Kapp  (757) 575-9520
For Broadcast:  Alison Geist (770) 813-0000

SOURCE American Center for Law and Justice

ACLJ Applauds Appeals Court Order Blocking Implementation of HHS Mandate on Behalf of MO Business Owner

The American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ), a pro-life legal organization that focuses on constitutional law, today applauded an order by a federal appeals court granting a motion for a preliminary injunction – an order that temporarily blocks the implementation of the HHS mandate against a Missouri business owner.

The order, issued by a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit, is the first decision from an appeals court in the litigation challenging the HHS mandate.

The order, which puts the HHS mandate on hold pending the outcome of the appeals process, prohibits the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) from requiring the business owner, who contends the mandate violates his constitutionally-protected religious beliefs, to comply with the mandate which requires employers to purchase health insurance for their employees that includes coverage for contraceptives, sterilization, and abortion-inducing drugs.

“By granting our motion, the appeals court blocks the implementation of the HHS mandate and clears the way for our lawsuit to continue – a significant victory for our client,” said Francis Manion, Senior Counsel of the ACLJ. “The order sends a message that the religious beliefs of employers must be respected by the government. We have argued from the beginning that employers like Frank O'Brien must be able to operate their business in a manner consistent with their moral values, not the values of the government. We look forward to this case moving forward and securing the constitutional rights of our client.”

The ACLJ represents Frank R. O'Brien and O'Brien Industrial Holdings, LLC  (OIH) - a holding company based in St. Louis, Missouri, which operates a number of businesses that explore, mine, and process refractory and ceramic raw materials.

In October, a federal district court judge granted the Obama Administration's Motion to Dismiss the lawsuit. The ACLJ immediately filed an appeal with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit. In an order issued today, the appeals court granted the ACLJ motion requesting an injunction pending an appeal.

The lawsuit, which was filed in March 2012, marked the first legal challenge to the HHS mandate from a private business owner and his company. Until the suit was filed, only religious organizations or institutions brought lawsuits challenging the mandate.

O'Brien, a Catholic, says his religious beliefs provide the framework for the operation of his businesses, which employ 87 people. The company website states the OIH mission "is to make our labor a pleasing offering to the Lord while enriching our families and society." OIH’s statement of the company's values begins with the following: "Integrity. Our conduct is guided by the Golden Rule and the Ten Commandments. We will not discriminate based on anyone's personal belief system."

In addition to the O’Brien case, the ACLJ has filed two other direct challenges to the HHS mandate and filed amicus briefs backing other challenges in more than a dozen cases.

Led by ACLJ Chief Counsel Jay Sekulow, the ACLJ is based in Washington, D.C.


SOURCE http://aclj.org

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