Prisoner Swaps and the Politics of Deceit and Hate

by Dan Quinn

For years, religious-right groups screamed that President Obama was ignoring the imprisonment of a Christian pastor in Iran. The American Family Association (a prominent backer of former Texas governor Rick Perry) has been so hateful that it even suggested the president cares more about Muslims than he does a Christian like that pastor, Saeed Abedini.

Then over the weekend Abedini was among four Americans released after a long and delicate period of negotiations between U.S. and Iranian officials. (Iran also released a fifth American, although reports indicate that release wasn’t directly related to the larger deal.)

On Monday the AFA sent out a celebratory email without even noting the Obama administration’s actions in gaining Abedini’s release. In fact, here’s the only mention of President Obama at all:

Through the AFA Action Alert, hundreds of thousands of emails, letters and phone calls flooded the State Department, members of Congress and President Obama during his time in prison.

That’s it. The email goes on:

Regardless of the publicly stated reasons for his release, we know that God has answered the prayers of His people.

“Regardless of the publicly stated reasons for his release”? What does that mean?

Here’s what the AFA said June 17 of last year in an email blast headlined: “Tell  President Obama: Get Christian pastor out of Iranian jail.”

Sadly, President Obama has been relatively quiet when it comes to religious persecution against Christians, but recently fought hard for a Muslim prisoner.

President Obama made an extensive effort to free Egyptian-American Mohamed Soltan, who was released from an Egyptian prison last month where he had been sentenced to life for accusations of affiliation with the radical Islamic terrorist group, the Muslim Brotherhood.

I really like Franklin’s appeal to President Obama: “Soltan worked on your campaign and his father was a prominent member of the Muslim Brotherhood. Mr. President, I hope you’ll do the same to help Saeed Abedini-who is guilty of nothing, was sentenced to 8-years in prison, and whose only affiliation is with the Lord Jesus Christ.’

Sign our petition to President Obama, urging him to do everything possible to secure the freedom of American Saeed Abedini.

Religious-right groups like the AFA are so consumed with hate that they can’t even acknowledge when President Obama does something they want. In fact, Texas-based religious-right groups have also been largely silent about the president’s role in Abedini’s release. That’s because doing otherwise would undermine the deceitful and hateful campaign to portray President Obama as hostile to Christianity. After all, that’s the strategy the religious right uses against all of its opponents.