Vetting, Accountability, Licensing, and Promoting for Pastor Saeed Abedini: Exploring What Went Wrong and How

The Qualifications Case of Pastor Saeed Abedini, and the Roles of Pastor Bob Caldwell, Franklin Graham, Jay Sekulow, and the American Evangelistic Association


 

The saying is trustworthy: If anyone aspires to the office of overseer, he desires a noble task.  Therefore an overseer must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, sober-minded, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, not a drunkard, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money.  He must manage his own household well, with all dignity keeping his children submissive,  for if someone does not know how to manage his own household, how will he care for God’s church?  He must not be a recent convert, or he may become puffed up with conceit and fall into the condemnation of the devil. Moreover, he must be well thought of by outsiders, so that he may not fall into disgrace, into a snare of the devil.

1 Timothy 3:3-7 (ESV/English Standard Version, via Bible Gateway)

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Regardless of which New Testament translation we use, we can’t get away from the essential mandate in 1 Timothy 3:3-7 — that those who want to be in public roles for the Church automatically subject themselves to ongoing “background checks” about their character and actions. ~ brad/futuristguy

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The Saeed and Naghmeh Abedini story is complicated. That doesn’t mean it is unfathomable, but it has many layers and interconnections involving these two individuals with other people and organizations. This post explores some of those key connections to see how they influenced the unfolding storylines, and to see what we can learn about how to do things better in the future.

The world watched as Pastor Saeed Abedini was elevated to hero status. Our hearts collectively ached for Naghmeh and her young children as we heard of his mistreatment in Iranian prison. After 3-1/2 yrs in prison, Saeed was released, and instead of joyous reunions, we heard of troubling details that were not part of Naghmeh’s original storyline.

Most readers have probably heard by now about Pastor Saeed Abedini’s 2007 domestic assault conviction. Where has this news been all of this time? Would Saeed had been the face of American prisoners in Iran if we had known this? Saeed represented religious freedom, the cause of Christ, and the persecuted Church. I suspect his image would not have looked too good with a previous domestic assault conviction.

The Pastor Saeed Abedini Story: I believe influential leaders failed to take responsibility for those entrusted in their care, and thus, Christ’s name has become a mockery to the world. I find many aspects of this story troubling, but two in particular are disturbing:

  • Leaders failed to do due diligence with the Abedini family regarding Saeed’s long-time pornography and abuse issues. Saeed Abedini was unfit to be pastor according to biblical requirements. What was done in this situation? Why was he allowed to continue ministry work? Why was he allowed to obtain and retain the pastor title?
  • The Abedini family was used by opportunistic individuals and organizations as a pawn to promote political agendas or personal gain.

 

saeed

 

Let’s take a look at key people involved in this story.  There are four key people/groups involved, as I see it, and I believe these four are responsible for not doing due diligence with this family, or for using them for their personal gain and promoting personal or political agendas:

  1. Pastor Bob Caldwell, Calvary Chapel Boise  – This is the home church of the Abedinis in Boise, Idaho.
  2. Franklin Graham.
  3. Jay Sekulow, Chief Counsel of the American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ).
  4. American Evangelistic Association (AEA) – This is the organization from which Saeed Abedini obtained his pastoral license.

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Pastor Bob Caldwell

Pastor Bob Caldwell has known Naghmeh since before she married Saeed. He visited Iran when they were married in June of 2004:

Meanwhile, in the U.S., a young woman named Naghmeh from that same country had accepted Christ and was attending Calvary Chapel Boise, ID. Feeling prompted to return to her homeland to share the Gospel with her family, she was sent out as a missionary by CC Boise in 2001. After sharing the Gospel with her family there for two years, she met Saeed. They immediately recognized God’s hand in bringing them together and their mutual calling to share the Gospel with Muslims. During a visit from Pastor Bob Caldwell of CC Boise, Saeed and Naghmeh were married in June of 2004; the couple continued to share Christ in the Islam-governed country. (Source)

Pastor Caldwell and his church were very involved in supporting the Abedini family before, during, and now, after Saeed’s release. In a different article about Saeed’s release from prison, Pastor Caldwell shares more about their relationship and acknowledges the political work Naghmeh has done to help free her husband:

“It’s beyond description really,” said Calwell. “I’ve known him pretty well and have been with him in Iran when he was doing stuff there, starting churches. So I love him a lot and to have him come back is just amazing.”

Caldwell said he’s proud of Naghmeh Abedini’s efforts to free her husband. During Abedini’s husband’s captivity she testified at the United Nations and before Congress. She also met with President Obama last year.

In the same article, Caldwell discusses Naghmeh’s disclosure of abuse by Saeed:

Caldwell said this public revelation – which Naghmeh says she regrets and blames on emotional distress – was a shock to some people in his church who supported Saeed through the years.

“It’s hard for a lot of people because you can turn a person into a hero you know, like a superhero,” said Caldwell. “And that’s kind of dangerous because people don’t want their heroes to be normal.” (Source)

Caldwell, unfortunately minimizes the abuse when he uses the word normal. Why was the word abusive not used? Is it because it is difficult to identify someone you have mentored and supported as an abuser?  Most victims understand the importance of correct terminology. To minimize is to dismiss.

Blogger Michael Newnham addresses what Pastor Caldwell knew in his recent article:

We know that as far back as 2007, his spousal abuse and addiction to pornography was known to the pastor he worked under, Bob Caldwell of Calvary Chapel Boise.

We know from sources that Caldwell briefly put Abedini under discipline for this, a time our sources put at 3-1/2 to 4 months.

In the comments section, Michael continues:

I do know that Bob Caldwell exercised authority over him in the matter of his pornography issues.

We read nothing but respect and admiration of Pastor Caldwell from the Abedinis. However, outsiders want answers because they feel they were deceived. Did Caldwell believe Saeed was fit for ministry, knowing his abuse/pornography issues?  And did he do anything to prevent him from going overseas and doing ministry work?

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Franklin Graham

So – what about Franklin Graham?  What role did he play in this?  Franklin took Saeed and Naghmeh on as his project. The Abedini family was the perfect poster family for religious freedom, and he put his money and his name with both Naghmeh and Saeed over the last 3-1/2 yrs.

You can see how political this situation became and how Naghmeh was used in the process:

 In March, Secretary of State John Kerry said he was “deeply concerned” about Saeed Abedini’s fate in Iran. “The best outcome for Mr. Abedini is that he be immediately released,” Kerry said.

“It is not enough,” Naghmeh Abedini said today. “We need to see action to back our rhetoric, in the living, breathing form of Saeed Abedini… having been released.”

“Even if our president can’t see the reality, the rest of the world can,” she said. “I hope and I pray our government… will realize how far we’ve fallen.” (Source)

In the screenshot below, Graham speaks out politically, even naming imprisoned Pastor Saeed Abedini as his friend. The other prisoners are not named. Did you know the other prisoners’ names?  I sure didn’t. Someone sure did a good PR job, huh?

 

 

A side note about the PR job I mentioned earlier. The DeMoss public relations firm coincidentally represents Franklin Graham, American Evangelistic Association, and Jay Sekulow. Maybe it is not coincidental after all when you look at their political leanings.

Back to Franklin Graham. Graham seemed to be spreading the bulk of news upon Saeed’s release: photos, videos, and statements. We were told that Naghmeh would join Franklin and they would fly together by private plane to Germany to meet Saeed. Naghmeh didn’t go to Germany. Instead, Saeed landed on US soil near Franklin Graham’s place.

These were the first pictures that came out after Saeed returned to the US – pictures with Franklin Graham and his private plane behind them:

 

 

We were told Saeed was to rest at Graham’s facility, and Naghmeh and their kids would join him. That, too, did not happen. Instead, Saeed flew to Boise to see his kids. (I read no reports of Saeed seeing Naghmeh – I could have missed something.)  Did Naghmeh have a voice in these plans?

What prompted Franklin Graham to be so actively involved in this case? What did he know and when? Did Graham have knowledge of Saeed’s conviction in 2007?  Per Naghmeh, he did know about the abuse a few months ago. Naghmeh posted this comment on her Facebook page: “Franklin was giving [sic] letters by religious leaders months ago confirming my allegations of abuse. He knows.”

saeed1

 

Franklin Graham frequently mentioned Saeed’s name as he made political speeches about terrorists and the US. Saeed’s name was so well known by now, people didn’t have to know his last name. #FreeSaeed was displayed on social media. People knew who he was, and that he had a beautiful family waiting for him at home. This was great marketing.

After Saeed’s release, Franklin Graham published a statement, which was discussed at The Wartburg Watch blog. A whole post could be made dissecting Franklin’s words, but it’s important to note: Franklin Graham put himself in the place of spokesman for the Abedini family. He told the world where Saeed would be going, when Naghmeh and his family would join him, etc. The last we heard from Franklin Graham was this public statement. In it, he referred to himself as “a minister of the Gospel.” As a minister of the Gospel, he had responsibility. Did he do due diligence to protect this family? Or did he use them as a picture of religious persecution, compromised religious freedoms, etc., to further his own political agenda?
After Saeed left Graham territory and flew to Boise, Franklin Graham seems to have dropped the Abedinis like a hot potato.

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Jay Sekulow, American Center for Law and Justice

Here is Mr. Sekulow’s bio:

“Jay Sekulow is an attorney with a passion for protecting religious liberty – freedom – democracy. For nearly a quarter of a century, he’s been on the front lines – working to protect religious and constitutional freedoms in the courts, in Congress, and in the public arena.” (Source)

I’m not going to get into much from Sekulow except to say that Saeed was once again the poster boy for the kind of causes that Jay Sekulow fights for. Saeed and Naghmeh were used to further his own political agenda.

Check out this article and very short video. The video is basically an infomercial for ACLJ. Take note of the music in the background.

Jay Sekulow: ACLJ leader Jay Sekulow says the fight against Christian persecution is not over just because Saeed was released. Sekulow echoes what each individual involved has stated publicly: Christians must continue to pray and fight for an end to persecution. (Source)   http://aclj.org/

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American Evangelistic Association (AEA)

Saeed Abedini received his pastor’s license through this organization. A summary of the historical background of AEA:

To compensate for the highly political hierarchy in a major denomination and the limitations of their overseer systems for organizing and controlling grass roots pastors, in 1954, Dr. [John] Douglas led a group of several dozen pastors in becoming become independent pastors and formed the American Evangelistic Association (“AEA).  (Source)

Did you interpret that the same way I did? I read this as an ideal place to get a pastor’s license if you don’t want to be under someone’s authority. Boom!

aea4

Source

 

American Evangelistic Association recognizes credentials for Pastoral Ordination, Pastoral Licensing, Elder recognition, Deacon/ Deaconess recognition, Church Planting leadership, and missionary. AEA believes the Scripture teaches that both male and female are eligible to serve in all capacities of ministry leadership. (Source)

OK, here’s the important part (bolded by moi):

Background checks are made on all candidates therefore thumb prints are required on the application. (Source)

So  – inquiring minds want to know – did they do a background check on Saeed before administering a pastor’s license to him?  Here is where it gets confusing. On January 16, 2016, president of AEA, Kerry Fink, sent out two nearly identical statements announcing Saeed’s release from prison. In those statements, there are two different dates indicating when Saeed joined AEA:

This one states early 2010:

 

And this statement lists June 18, 2008 as the date Saeed joined up with AEA.

aea2

Source

 

Here is the AEA application section where Saeed should have filled out his criminal record:

 

As we have come to find out from the official Idaho court record on Saeed’s domestic assault guilty plea, the violation date on the case is July 1, 2007, it was filed the next day, and the disposition was on January 25, 2008.

2007 Saeed Abedinigalangashi Case History 2

If AEA did their background check as they said they do, and if Saeed was forthcoming with information on his application that he was indicted and convicted of domestic assault, and AEA did invite Saeed into their fold in 2008, then why was he issued a pastor’s license? This blogger wants to know.

In case any of you wanted to become a pastor (male or female, btw), here is what it will cost you, and a brief explanation about the required “contributions.”  I never knew that contributions were a requirement!

Since the association is totally dependent on contributions we require all of our members to make a monthly financial commitment to their association. (Source)

 

 

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It is my opinion that Saeed Abedini should never have been licensed as a pastor or serving in that role, based on the 2007 case and conviction, and ongoing pornography and abuse issues. Church leaders and the AEA could have done a better job of preventing him from getting into ministries and alerting others to his ongoing problems if he sought out ministry anyway.

It is my opinion that Naghmeh has been a victim of her husband’s abuse, and she was used as a puppet to further the political agendas of Jay Sekulow and Franklin Graham. These two men saw an opportunity for funds, prestige, and power right in front of them and they seized it. However, once the abuse allegations became public, they wiped their hands clean of the mess and I have yet to see anything from them showing real support for Naghmeh now.

Is it any wonder why the world laughs at Christians?

 

92 comments on “Vetting, Accountability, Licensing, and Promoting for Pastor Saeed Abedini: Exploring What Went Wrong and How

  1. Hey ja

    I’m-a-thinkin your degree could be in…

    Investigative Journalism

    “Investigative journalism is a form of journalism in which reporters deeply investigate a single topic of interest, such as serious crimes, political corruption. An investigative journalist may spend months or years researching and preparing a report. Investigative journalism is a primary source of information. Most investigative journalism is conducted by newspapers, wire services, and freelance journalists. Practitioners sometimes use the term “accountability reporting”.”

    You summarized this ugly story well. 😉

    Liked by 4 people

  2. At 1 Timothy 6:5, Paul speaks of “people who are depraved in mind and deprived of the truth, imagining that godliness is a means of gain” (ESV). Just sayin’.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Hmmm?

    “Is it any wonder why the world laughs at Christians?”

    Is it any wonder why? In the Bible?

    NOT one of His Disciples was Ordained

    As a pastor? Or leader? Or reverend?

    Seems, these wanna-be church leaders, christian leaders,

    Give God a bad name…

    Liked by 4 people

  4. It’s all kind of reminiscent of how “pastor” Ted Haggard, disgraced patron of at least on homosexual prostitute, made it all the way to the presidency of the National Association of Evangelicals.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Wow. Just, wow. You, Julie Anne, as well as the Deebs, are invaluable to Christian ethics in our day. Thank you so much for keeping the conservative evangelical Republican political machine in its proper (at times toxic) perspective.

    Liked by 3 people

  6. In regard to AEA…$40 annual fee plus $30 a month “tithe?” That’s $400 a year! I couldn’t find out how many members this organization has, but they certainly have secured some monthly income flow.

    Like

  7. Yes, Julie Anne, you did an excellent job on this post and I agree with everything you said. It is a shame that any of this happened. He should have never even gone back to Iran. He should not have had credentials. I remember when he first got imprisoned, I looked up what church he was from and found that his license was not really from any denomination. Red flag number one. And Jay Sekulow never did sit right with me. He comes across as a slick marketer with a hard fund raising agenda. In fact, I did not really even know who he was until this happened with Saeed being imprisoned. I think you are accurate in assessing both Franklin Graham’s and Sekulow’s motives. What a travesty this whole thing is.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. In regard to AEA…$40 annual fee plus $30 a month “tithe?” That’s $400 a year! I couldn’t find out how many members this organization has, but they certainly have secured some monthly income flow.

    Kathi,

    Kathi, originally, I had included in this article that the former president of AEA also founded CCM (or Medi-Share), a pseudo medical insurance program where people pay $$ monthly. This guy John ______ (name escapes me and I’m in class), seems to have a good money-making system down. (The post was already too long!)

    The Medi-Share program has been in the news as well as another organization like it.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Julie Anne,

    You knocked it out of the park, you are our own Spotlight investigative journalist. How on earth you do, all you do, is remarkable. Will be doubling down on prayer for you, the big pigs, I mean the big wigs, will not appreciate your article. You are fearless. Thank-You.

    Liked by 2 people

  10. ja

    You ask some excellent questions…
    “Saeed Abedini was unfit to be pastor according to biblical requirements. What was done in this situation? Why was he allowed to continue ministry work? Why was he allowed to obtain and retain the pastor title?”

    This might sound harsh, but…
    Once you are a part of the gud-ole-boys-club, pastor/leader/reverend…
    Protecting this club, and it’s members, is what’s important.

    Damn the biblical requirements. Full speed ahead…

    If these guys, Biblical Elder/Overseers. TM
    “subject themselves to ongoing “background checks”
    about their character and actions.”

    There would be waaaaaaay to many Empty Pulpits… 😦

    30-40% of pastors admit to having had an affair.
    40-50% of pastors admit to Porn as a problem..
    70% of pastors constantly fight depression.
    …… (Maybe because of affairs and porn?)
    77% of pastors admit they do NOT have a good marriage.
    80% of pastors feel “unqualified” and discouraged in their role as pastor.
    80% of spouses wish their spouse would choose a different profession.
    80% believe pastoral ministry has negatively affected their families.

    And, these are the guys runnin the show. Ouch!!!

    Do these statistics sound like someone who can…
    manage his own household, WELL.
    Then “how will he care for God’s church?”

    1 Tim 3:4-5 ESV
    4 – He must manage his own household WELL,
    with all dignity keeping his children submissive,
    5 – for if someone does not know how to manage his own household,
    how will he care for God’s church?

    Just this one requirement for overseer,
    must manage his own household WELL,
    of over 16, in 1 Tim 3 and Titus…

    Will dis-qualify most who call themselves pastor/elder/overseer.

    But, will these pastor/elder/overseers remove themselves?
    And be a good example to the flock?

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Thank you for being a voice for Naghmeh Abedini, when there seems to be so many other voices only wanting her to shut the heck up. I belong to a Facebook group run by a certain notorious Montana “pastor”, and Naghmeh’s story has turned into a VERY long discussion of why she should stop talking about her abuse to the public. The “sin of gossip”, you know. It’s a terrible thing, apparently, for a victimized spouse to admit publicly that their marriage partner is abusive toward them. This mentality has created a few questions of my own:

    Sure, gossip is sinful, but why does it always tend to be the “bigger sin” overshadowing the fact that the “gossiper” maybe be enduring violence in the home? Why no compassion for the one speaking up about the abuse?

    Over and over I’m hearing, “then why did Naghmeh campaign for Saeed’s release if he’s so abusive?” I ask, why not believe that Naghmeh is still a loving wife, in spite of the way she’s treated, still acts out of love for her husband? Why not believe her when she says that Saeed pressured her from prison, to uphold this public image? Why not simply believe her?

    Why the vitriol towards Naghmeh? Previous court documents prove that Saeed has been abusive in the past. Consider her plight now, having him back, walking on eggshells, needing support? Did the Iranian prison make Saeed a better, more loving, compassionate husband? Considering all he went through while imprisoned in Iran’s most notorious prison, I’d say the answer to that question is likely “no” and Naghmeh is right to be seeking help from anyone who will listen.

    Thanks again for being a voice for Naghmeh, I worry that she is now the one imprisoned.

    Liked by 5 people

  12. Speaking of how many of the former reps and promoters have distanced themselves from the situation, these three paragraphs from a February 1, 2016, Washington Post article summarize it well:

    A spokesman for the ACLJ said the Christian legal nonprofit is no longer representing the Abedinis, now that Saeed has been released. The family is no longer working with the DeMoss Group, a prominent Christian public relations firm based in Atlanta, which does media relations for the ACLJ and the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association.

    DeMoss handled media relations for the Abedinis when Saeed returned from Iran and stayed at the Cove, a retreat center run by the BGEA.

    “Now that Saeed has left the Cove and returned to Boise, we are not in a position to navigate his or Naghmeh’s movements, statements or wishes relative to interviews,” a DeMoss spokesman wrote in an email.

    https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/acts-of-faith/wp/2016/02/01/the-strange-case-of-the-pastor-released-from-iran-and-his-wifes-abuse-allegations/

    “Due diligence” should’ve been a done deal. Despite any potential attempts to revise the history of these organizations’ involvement, it will never be as if they weren’t connected and/or that their representatives apparently failed in doing some due diligence to portray the situation fairly and accurately. As it turned out, it seems a lot of supporters and prayer warriors ended up confused and feeling betrayed. Hopefully, the more that situations are revealed and analyze where they weren’t handled well will help change the barometer to better due-diligence in the future.

    Liked by 2 people

  13. “Now that Saeed has left the Cove and returned to Boise, we are not in a position to navigate his or Naghmeh’s movements, statements or wishes relative to interviews,”

    If you remove the “relative to interviews” part of that sentence, it sounds pretty darn creepy and controlling. hmmm

    Like

  14. Great work on this!

    This isn’t an exhaustive statement, but God sure seems to be using a lot of women through humble, unconventional channels lately. Conversely, a lot of men in conventional positions of power are pridefully doubling down and holding fast to their authority.

    Liked by 3 people

  15. @Tweetie Pie

    You say, “Sure, gossip is sinful. . . .” Well, not quite. If I may repeat part of what I wrote on the January 13, 2016 thread:

    The use of the word “gossip” at 2 Cor 12:20 appears to me to be a bad translation of the Greek word ψιθυρισμοί/psithyrismoi. Dictionary.com defines gossip, in English, as “idle talk or rumor, especially about the personal or private affairs of others,” and “light, familiar talk or writing.” At http://biblehub.com/greek/5587.htm, however, we discover that the Greek word translated “gossip” actually means things like: a whispering, secret slandering, a whispering to “quietly” spread malicious gossip, and to whisper, speak into one’s ear), a whispering, i. e. secret slandering.

    Gossip in the Biblical sense requires malice. It is no doubt happening, but it is being committed by those who seek to silence, and possibly even destroy, Naghmeh.

    Liked by 1 person

  16. Actually Ray, Saeed is not the target. I expect I speak for most, possibly all here, in saying we wish Saeed the best, on condition of good behavior of course. It is people like you who would suggest, either directly or by implication, that Naghmeh has no right to expect an abuse-free marriage who are my target.

    Liked by 5 people

  17. If what you mean is that the roles these other organizations played, and any failures therein, aren’t important, then I’m with Gary W on this, Ray. In the biggest picture of things, some very damaging things happened in/to the Church through the larger support system that was in play here. So, looking at the system issues is always important to upgrading the reliability of our organizations’ reputations in the future. Those public aspects of how things work or don’t work won’t go away because the Abedinis become more private.

    Like

  18. Ray Comfort,

    There is simply nothing incompatible with thanking God that Saeed is free from prison–while simultaneously standing in solidarity with Nahgmeh, that she might similarly be set free from a prison perhaps worse. Her abuser (a matter of public record, Ray) was the one whom she ought to be able to trust the most, his abusers were strangers. Which is worse?

    If pointing out the uncomfortable truth is incompatible with your view of the Bible, you need to change your view of the Bible, Ray. Satan obfuscates, the Lord reveals, He is the One Who told us about whispers in the inner rooms being shouted from rooftops, He is the One Who inspired that record of 4,000+ years of the failings and sometimes abusiveness of His people.

    Ray, you have put yourself on the wrong side of the truth.

    Liked by 6 people

  19. I’m not going to get into much from Sekulow except to say that Saeed was once again the poster boy for the kind of causes that Jay Sekulow fights for. Saeed and Naghmeh were used to further his own political agenda.

    The ACLJ, which Sekulow runs, was founded by Pat Roberston. You know, the Pat Robertson who recommended that one husband move to Saudi Arabia so he could legally beat his rebellious wife? I guess Saeed would make a good poster boy for the cause.

    Liked by 2 people

  20. Thank you for taking time out of your busy schedule to write this very informative article. You summed it up very well.
    “Is it any wonder why the world laughs at Christians?”

    May we not lose heart and continue to contend earnestly for the faith … the true faith. I am just so very blessed to have others reveal the “dirty truth” regardless of smear campaigns.

    Liked by 1 person

  21. “There is simply nothing incompatible with thanking God that Saeed is free from prison–while simultaneously standing in solidarity with Nahgmeh, that she might similarly be set free from a prison perhaps worse. Her abuser (a matter of public record, Ray) was the one whom she ought to be able to trust the most, his abusers were strangers. Which is worse?”

    Exactly. Thanks for articulating that so very well

    Liked by 1 person

  22. Haha Jael.

    And the women are doing it FREE of charge!

    Just reading Luke again and was humoured that God used a no doubt wild, smelly man called John who dined on bush grub as an unlikely mouth piece for the coming King Jesus.

    Mentioned just above John in the text… The Religious men.

    Whose role was to??

    Well… I can’t be sure.

    They just existed and no doubt bounced off each other’s awesomeness.

    Yep.

    Donkeys
    Women
    Stinky John.

    God uses the things other people deem worthless.

    Stinky John. Haha

    Liked by 1 person

  23. This is disgraceful, but not surprising. A minister with an agenda? Hmmm, sad to say but quite common place. Judgement must begin in the House of God; hence the exposure of this pastor, Franklin Graham, Jay Sekulow, Calvary Chapel and the AEA. WOE TO THEM ALL!

    Like

  24. “To compensate for the highly political hierarchy in a major denomination and the limitations of their overseer systems for organizing and controlling grass roots pastors, in 1954, Dr. [John] Douglas led a group of several dozen pastors in becoming become independent pastors and formed the American Evangelistic Association (“AEA“).”

    So they decided to cut through the red tape of a major denomination (the SBC?), and then end up not doing their due diligence with this one guy that we know of. I wonder if Bob Caldwell said anything to impress them or if that was all Saeed’s doing. And why go through the AEA? Couldn’t he get ordained in Calvary Chapel?

    The AEA sounds kind of like the ecclesiastical equivalent of these online diploma mills.

    Like

  25. It appears “pastor” Caldwell and AEA ought to have assumed responsibility for holding Saeed accountable. By failing to do so, they have betrayed Naghmeh, his and her children, and, arguably, the world at large. How so?

    If Saeed’s continuing (apparent) abuse issues had been recognized and properly addressed, he would have been deemed disqualified from missionary work, and he would not have ended up spending 3+ years in Iranian prisons. Plus, he would have been saved from the very public humiliation he now suffers.

    Naghmeh and the children were betrayed because there was no attempt to address and resolve the alleged ongoing abuse. They too would have avoided all the pain they must be experiencing from the present publicity. (I do not use the word “alleged” because I disbelieve the allegations–only to avoid being charged with libel.)

    Finally, if accountability had prevented Saeed’s return to Iran, he would not have become a bargaining chip, held by Iran, in a high stakes negotiation of global significance. How much pressure was the U.S. government feeling as a result of the publicity surrounding Saeed’s imprisonment? Even if the pressure was subtle and minor, did our negotiators end up making a worse bargain than would otherwise have been attainable? Given our president’s personal involvement with the Abadini family, I believe the political pressure surrounding Saeed’s foreseeable and unnecessary imprisonment was substantial.

    If the consequence of the Iranian negotiations is that Iran ends up with nuclear weapons capability, as many are predicting, the responsibility can in part be laid at the feet of those who ought to have held Saeed accountable, i.e. “pastor” Caldwell and the American Evangelistic Association.

    Liked by 2 people

  26. 30-40% of pastors admit to having had an affair.
    40-50% of pastors admit to Porn as a problem..
    70% of pastors constantly fight depression.
    …… (Maybe because of affairs and porn?)

    Amos,

    I might be drifting a bit off topic, but… I wonder if those figures are correlated, but in a different way. Behaviours like porn usage and infidelity might be symptoms or results of depression, rather than causes of it.

    There’s a book I occasionally mention on these blogs. In it, the author discusses the phenomenon of “covert depression”, which tends to manifest in men more than women, in his experience. He posits that depressed men, in order to keep functioning and not look weak or “unmanly”, often try to fight off their condition by engaging in self-glorifying behaviours: violence, risk-taking, over-spending, over-working, affairs or pornography. The depression is more often caused by trauma or burn-out than by the dangerous actions.

    I don’t mention any of this to condone or excuse pastors who cheat on their wives or become addicted to porn. It could be that many such clergymen have tried to heal themselves of depression by becoming pastors, and when that doesn’t work, they “self-medicate” in the ways that you mention. All of this, instead of admitting how much pain they’re in, and getting the help and treatment that they need.

    Like

  27. The AEA sounds kind of like the ecclesiastical equivalent of these online diploma mills.

    It sure does.

    Couldn’t he get ordained in Calvary Chapel?

    It sure seems like he could have. We know from “Pastor” Bob Grenier’s story that he had only been a Christian for a very short period of time. I’d have to look it up, but my recollection is only months.

    Liked by 1 person

  28. Serving Kids In Japan: Please give the name of the book and the author that you have mentioned. Altho I wonder if this is another example of “which came first, the chicken or the egg”, I do appreciate your insights and comments. I am going to look up “covert depression” now!

    Like

  29. For what it’s worth, on the topic of depression and how it can trigger acting out — regardless of type of acting out (substance abuse, sexual, risky or violent behaviors, food, etc.) — in recovery movement ministries, we talked about HALT. We’re most susceptible when we are:

    Hungry
    Angry
    Lonely
    Tired

    To which I added an -ED to the end to make it HALTED, and these additions have shown themselves to likewise be accurate as “emotional tone” states that act as triggers:

    Excited
    Depressed

    Like

  30. Does anyone else still have questions about the numerous emails that Naghmeh (or her handlers?) wrote, for over 3 years, about Saeed being beaten, tortured, starved, ill and no medical attention, parents not able to visit him at times, all the while professing what a great Christian man, husband and father he is, etc, etc……and then all of the sudden we hear about him having a cell phone and watching films, porn and abusing her over skype for hours at a time. Anyone else have questions about this??

    As I see it, she comes from, a culture that subjugates women, as well as the patriarchal church culture she is involved in….(a church that knew of his abuse and still sent him out, continuing to call him “Pastor”).
    She was a young wife/mother whose husband abused her (for many years as she stated, and proved by his conviction).
    It appears (to me) that it took being on her own, away from the abuse, to realize that she didn’t need to live that way any longer and the reasonable thing to do would be to “set boundaries” to protect herself and her children. I believe her about the abuse, but i have questions about all of her emails.
    What is the truth of the matter with all those emails about his horrendous conditions and then suddenly she tells us that he has cell phone use and is abusing her.

    Was this all lies, was she managed by DeMoss/ACLJ/Graham to write these things? Was someone else writing them, or??? To me this is very confusing and needs to be addressed.

    Like

  31. Hi Serving Kids in Japan

    Nice to hear from you.

    Yes – This is certainly a possibility…
    “Behaviours like porn usage and infidelity
    might be symptoms or results of depression, rather than causes of it.”

    Yeah – Which came first?

    I had NOT previously thought about that “correlation” before…
    Between Porn and Depression, when I was posting those statistics.

    Personally, when I’ve battled depression, sadness, hopelessness…
    I eventually recognized that I was constantly focused on myself…
    My problems… My losses… My mistakes… My failures… My sin… and…
    Especially my perceived “Failures and mistakes with God.”

    “Woe is me! for I am undone; because I am a man of unclean lips,”

    Giving most pastor/leader/reverends the benefit of the doubt…
    That they came to be pastors/leaders, to Serve God and Serve His people…
    There is probably great pain, sorrow, for “most,” of them…
    With these “Moral Failures,” “Addictions,” they are NOT be able to control…
    Failing their families… Failing the congregations… Failing God…
    And the Great Fear, of someone else finding out.

    Think of the pastor who committed suicide after the Ashley Madison hack.

    As much as I rag on, and complain about, these “Titled” “in-titled” guys…
    I would like to see them set free from this aberrant “Religious System.”

    I feel sorry for them and their families…
    Being so caught up with, and in bondage to…
    The Doctrines of Men, The Traditions of Men…
    That has become…

    “Today’s Corrupt Religious System.”

    Like

  32. Does anybody know if the U.S. was restricting travel to Iran at the time Saeed entered? It seems that, at present, the State Department only has a warning in place (with special caution to dual U.S./Iranian citizens), but not an outright prohibition. I have found an old, not necessarily reliable, list of countries, including Iran, as to which travel was prohibited.

    Anyhow, if Saeed traveled to Iran in violation of a U.S. travel prohibition, or even just a warning, he becomes a much less sympathetic figure, at least to my way of thinking. Regardless, the case could be made that somebody with a wife and family ought just possibly to have put their interests first.

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  33. Anita: I can understand your confusion and concern about the seeming discrepancy between Naghmeh’s reports of her husband’s treatment and the apparently cushy life he was leading in prison. It is at this point only speculation that she was knowingly lying. Perhaps she was unknowingly the pawn of all the major players in this perplexing and saddening drama. My heart goes out to her!!

    Brad: Okay–“recovery movement ministries”–where in the massive amounts of information on your futuristguy website do you talk more about this?

    Like

  34. @Gary W. — for your research question. Hope this is of help in answering it.

    I went on the Wayback Machine internet archives to the State Department pages on travel warnings. Here is a series of the warnings for travel to Iran from late 2011 through late 2012, plus the most recent update.

    October 21, 2011
    https://web.archive.org/web/20120118134026/http://travel.state.gov/travel/cis_pa_tw/tw/tw_5583.html

    April 27, 2012
    https://web.archive.org/web/20120701230728/http://travel.state.gov/travel/cis_pa_tw/tw/tw_5703.html

    December 7, 2012
    https://web.archive.org/web/20130301170638/http://travel.state.gov/travel/cis_pa_tw/tw/tw_5830.html

    January 29, 2016 (Most current update)
    https://travel.state.gov/content/passports/en/alertswarnings/iran-travel-warning.html

    I didn’t check every month in 2012 for changes in the advisory, but if you want to do that, here’s the main page, click on 2012, and go for it!

    https://web.archive.org/web/20130901000000*/https://travel.state.gov/

    Like

  35. Anita: Another thought–Perhaps she believed all the good things she said about Saeed and took the fault upon herself for the abuse she suffered, as is frequently the case with abused women. Any time spent reading on A Cry For Justice website reveals that tendency–a tragic attempt to make sense of the abuse “it must be my fault.”

    Liked by 2 people

  36. Anita – I’d liken what she did in terms of talking about the torture and Saeed’s goodness (assuming it was, in fact, false) to what many women do to prop up the image, sometimes at the cost of the truth. Hillary Clinton has had to field more than a few questions about why in the world she spoke of a “vast right wing conspiracy” that allegedly made up these allegations against Bill, when in reality she knew what was going on, and that many of the allegations were true and by no means were all coming from the right wing.

    Like

  37. I’d hate to put Naghmeh in the same category as Hillary, a lying, deceitful, hateful politician who would do anything to get/keep power.

    Like

  38. What is the truth of the matter with all those emails about his horrendous conditions and then suddenly she tells us that he has cell phone use and is abusing her.

    I don’t doubt that Saeed suffered abuse in prison. This is an account of a different Saeed, Saeed Pourheydar, of his time in an Iranian prison:

    “Even if a prisoner is not to suffer any compounded physical torture or abuse, solitary confinement is in itself a manifestation of psychological and mental torture. The most significant abuse I suffered in prison was my psychological and mental torture (white torture). Sometimes I was physically tortured, which included beatings during interrogations, sleep deprivation, once throwing me inside a cold water barrel, or keeping me naked outside in the cold weather. Some of the mental and psychological torture included giving me false news and information, threatening me with flogging, forcing me to accept immoral charges, threatening me with arrests of my family members or giving me false news about the arrests of my wife and my father, playing my daughter’s voice during an interrogation session and telling me that my wife and my daughter were also arrested, threatening me with a long prison sentence, and banning my visitations and contacts with my family,” he continued. . .

    “Beatings, urinating on the prisoner’s head and face, hanging the prisoner by his feet, flogging, using electric shockers, hitting sensitive spots on one’s body, and one case of horrible rape using glue, were parts of the physical torture my friends told me about. Fake executions, insults and degradation, arrests of family members, threats of arresting and raping the prisoner’s wife or daughter, threatening the prisoner with the death sentence, forcing the prisoner to take psychedelics, etc., were only a small part of the psychological and mental tortures used inside the Islamic Republic prisons that these 19 prisoners experienced. Though the number of prisoners who were tortured was far more than this number, when I was inside Ward 250, I was only able to talk to 19 individuals, some of whom were unfortunately executed later and some others who continue to serve their time there.”

    https://www.iranhumanrights.org/2011/06/saeed-pourheidar-1/

    That doesn’t mean that these prisoners don’t have access to cell phones and porn. In fact, they do.

    https://en.iranwire.com/features/6932/

    Like

  39. 😀 I can assure you JS or FG have no influence on me. That’s just my NSHO from watching her in action over the past few decades.

    The links by BTDT were very interesting. Thank you.

    Liked by 1 person

  40. @Gary W,
    You replied, “The use of the word “gossip” at 2 Cor 12:20 appears to me to be a bad translation of the Greek word ψιθυρισμοί/psithyrismoi. Dictionary.com defines gossip, in English, as “idle talk or rumor, especially about the personal or private affairs of others,” and “light, familiar talk or writing.” At http://biblehub.com/greek/5587.htm, however, we discover that the Greek word translated “gossip” actually means things like: a whispering, secret slandering, a whispering to “quietly” spread malicious gossip, and to whisper, speak into one’s ear), a whispering, i. e. secret slandering.

    Gossip in the Biblical sense requires malice. It is no doubt happening, but it is being committed by those who seek to silence, and possibly even destroy, Naghmeh.”

    Thank you for that. The Bunker FB group is much more guilty of it daily than what they accuse Naghmeh of doing. This morning, someone suggested that Naghmeh lied about Saeed’s abuse to paint him as a horrible person as part of the deal to get him released, in order to help “Iran save face”. SMH!!

    Liked by 1 person

  41. Anita said:

    Was this all lies, was she managed by DeMoss/ACLJ/Graham to write these things? Was someone else writing them, or??? To me this is very confusing and needs to be addressed.

    I absolutely have similar questions. What I really want to know is how much influence DeMoss, ACLJ, Franklin had over her public speaking and revealing of information.

    I was struck by how detailed Franklin announced what was going to happen and when, upon the arrival of Saeed to the States. Something happened, however, that was not in the plans when Naghmeh remained in Boise and Saeed met his children there instead of at the Graham facility, as was the plan earlier reported. You could tell that she was no longer controlled by them. That in and of itself is a very powerful move by Naghmeh. Perhaps she got tired of not only living in Saeed’s prison, but also the control of the PR team.

    Of course they (PR team) would never admit they were controlling her, but any time a person is not allowed freedom to speak, it raises some flags for me. I know they wanted to be careful about what was said about Saeed publicly, but I really wonder how much the PR team actually “cared” for Naghmeh.

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  42. I’d hate to put Naghmeh in the same category as Hillary, a lying, deceitful, hateful politician who would do anything to get/keep power.

    …………………………………………………………………………………………………….

    I understand, Anita. I’m not political and don’t have such strong feelings against Hillary, I consider that in the 1990s she was caught in a very bad situation and had a Hobson’s Choice. I’d suggest that Nahgmeh was in that same type of position if it eventually proves true that she was exaggerating her husband’s trials in prison for public consumption.

    Like

  43. I was struck by how detailed Franklin announced what was going to happen and when, upon the arrival of Saeed to the States. Something happened, however, that was not in the plans when Naghmeh remained in Boise and Saeed met his children there instead of at the Graham facility, as was the plan earlier reported.
    ………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..

    It seems so opportunistic. Franklin evidently suggests that this recently-freed missionary comes to his home or compound or whatever it is, so that he can bask in a little of the reflected glow from this recent celebrity. It just seems distasteful and narcissistic in the extreme. This couple, having gone through the greatest trial of their lives, whether they had extraordinary marital issues or not, shouldn’t they have privately met, at their own home, first? I’d feel like a reptile suggesting that they come by my place first.

    Liked by 1 person

  44. This morning, someone suggested that Naghmeh lied about Saeed’s abuse to paint him as a horrible person as part of the deal to get him released, in order to help “Iran save face”.

    That is so far out in tinfoil hat territory that it’s not even worth addressing.

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  45. “Wow Anita….you’re description of Hillary Clinton sounds just like something from the moths of Jay Sekulow and Franklin Graham.”

    She is the lefty version of using people for her personal agenda.

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  46. ,”I understand, Anita. I’m not political and don’t have such strong feelings against Hillary, I consider that in the 1990s she was caught in a very bad situation and had a Hobson’s Choice. ”

    Hillary wanted her turn. She hired Betsy Wright to handle the bills bimbo eruptions. She was no feminist or role model. Nor was unable to make her own living. She was the breadwinner when Ark gov was paid 30,000 year. Bad example.

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  47. “Was this all lies, was she managed by DeMoss/ACLJ/Graham to write these things? Was someone else writing them, or??? To me this is very confusing and needs to be addressed.”

    She is a comp wife living in a Calvary chapel authoritarian world where others know best for her. She had most likely, like other comp wives who are emotionally abused, living a double life. She was supporting her husband taking media cues from handlers and carrying the load.

    My guess is she started getting stronger. Saaed was probably putting more demands on her and taking his horror out on her in convos. She would be the nstural target if he was abusive to begin with. This is triggering. So she has “no Saeed normal” where she is a person in her own right and then old saeed normal which is looking worse and worse as time goes on. Now it becomes about protecting her new normal.

    She even mentioned coming to face the what I call the Christian industrial complex because she was part of it. (So was I so I can get that part)

    There is no easy way out of that double life. You are a hypocrite to most people.

    Can you tell I have talked to many former pastors wives who were abused and tried to live that double life? Naghmeh had a national presence so multiply by 1 million.

    Still she would not want her abuser in prison in Iran. But she did not want to go back to her previous life or do the speaking tour with him either.

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  48. Hillary wanted her turn. She hired Betsy Wright to handle the bills bimbo eruptions. She was no feminist or role model. Nor was unable to make her own living. She was the breadwinner when Ark gov was paid 30,000 year. Bad example.
    ……………………………………………………………………………………………………………..

    What you say may be totally true, she may be a scheming opportunist, but one can be both a cynical politician and a victim of a husband’s philandering abuse–the two are not mutually exclusive.

    In any event, I don’t want to compare the integrity of Nahgmeh with that of Ms Clinton, just the hard circumstances under which they found themselves and the difficult choices both had to make.

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  49. She is a comp wife living in a Calvary chapel authoritarian world where others know best for her. She had most likely, like other comp wives who are emotionally abused, living a double life. She was supporting her husband taking media cues from handlers and carrying the load.

    My guess is she started getting stronger. Saaed was probably putting more demands on her and taking his horror out on her in convos. She would be the nstural target if he was abusive to begin with…Still she would not want her abuser in prison in Iran. But she did not want to go back to her previous life or do the speaking tour with him either.
    ………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..

    Probably the most rational explanation I’ve yet read.

    Liked by 1 person

  50. Sidenote:

    I was wondering something this morning…

    Can someone please explain me to me the difference between an Egalitarian’s perspective on ‘the family’ vs the Complementarian’s view.

    Practically speaking, how does an Egalitarian household work when you have small babies?

    Is it offensive to an Egalitarian Christian woman to suggest that they should stay at home and look after their children (after breastfeeding, if possible) instead of putting them into full time care to go and pursue study and/or their career?

    Serious question.

    I ask this from the point of a SAHM with a very helpful non douchebag husband. Do Egalitarian Christian women truly believe that they have the ‘right’ to choose to not stay at home and look after their small children, in order to pursue a more preferable vocation?

    I just can’t imagine telling my husband I no longer want to spend all day at home and want to go to medical school (just saying).

    Can someone assist me with this?

    Am I wrong to think that gender roles are important, especially when your children are young?

    Liked by 1 person

  51. Is it offensive to an Egalitarian Christian woman to suggest that they should stay at home and look after their children (after breastfeeding, if possible) instead of putting them into full time care to go and pursue study and/or their career?

    Not at all, imo. I am also a SAHM and homeschool to boot. Like you, I have a wonderful, “non douchebag husband” as well. 🙂

    Someone named “KR Wordgazer” (I think) explained it to me on this blog. An egalitarian says if him leading and her following is what works best for your marriage then have at it. A complementarian says you’re out of God’s order or God’s will if he doesn’t lead and she follows.

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  52. “Practically speaking, how does an Egalitarian household work when you have small babies?”

    Whatever works best for them. Comps try to describe such marriages as competitive. The best word is mutual. Serving one another like the Body of Christ should. It is not about authority or power but serving in gifts and skill sets for the family. She might be the better money manager. He might be the better cook. Who cares?

    Carolyn Custis James calls it the “blessed alliance”

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  53. So an Egalitarian would be more likely to get away with saying, “Oi husband! Make me a coffee please. After you’ve changed the baby’s nappy”.

    Cool.

    I think I prefer that. I’m down.

    Or in.

    Or out? (God’s will!?).

    Meh.

    Good explantations ladies.

    Egalitarian arrangements which work (two happy parents and smiling kids) must really p*ss off the other team.

    Ok.

    Carry on soldiers.

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  54. @brad/futuristguy

    Thanks for the links! Although one couldn’t know for sure without spending more time than I wish to spend, it looks like Saeed’s entry into Iran probably wasn’t illegal, just foolish.

    Liked by 1 person

  55. Couldn’t he get ordained in Calvary Chapel?

    “It sure seems like he could have. We know from “Pastor” Bob Grenier’s story that he had only been a Christian for a very short period of time. I’d have to look it up, but my recollection is only months.”

    Uh huh. I think there’s a verse somewhere about not ordaining a man if he is a recent convert, lest he become proud and fall into the devil’s snare, or something like that. And Paul appears to be talking here about men who are genuine Christians, never mind wolves in sheep’s clothing.

    Like

  56. Please give the name of the book and the author that you have mentioned.

    Dear Nancyjane,

    Sorry that it took so long for me to respond. I posted that last comment just before heading to bed last night.

    The book I’m referring to is “I Don’t Want To Talk About It”, by Dr. Terrence Real.

    And he also touches on the “chicken and egg” aspect, and the way that depression and addiction seem to feed off of each other. Dr. Real refers to it as a “shame cycle”, in which a depressed man’s irresponsible defences bring temporary relief from hopelessness and despair, but eventually just make the despair even worse than before.

    “Why do you drink?”
    “Because I’m depressed.”
    “And why are you depressed?”
    “Because I’m a lush.”

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  57. @Gary W. said, “Thanks for the links! Although one couldn’t know for sure without spending more time than I wish to spend, it looks like Saeed’s entry into Iran probably wasn’t illegal, just foolish.”

    The thing is, if vetting had been done properly before such an entry decision was made, the decision would not even need to be made. There was substantial reason in that era to find Mr. Abedini as disqualified from ministry leadership, and in need of time away from ministry to focus on personal conformity to the image of Christ. Therefore, he should not have been expecting to go elsewhere to serve.

    It seems to me that his decision to go was at the least not wise, even if it was taken with knowledge that it was a calculated risk — but those who either declared him qualified to go and/or failed to stop him from going were likewise culpable, weren’t they?

    Liked by 1 person

  58. Recent converts should not be made pastors. They aren’t prepared to assume this role. How can a pastor who is new to Christianity teach the Bible without extensive study? Pastors are called upon to mediate and counsel. They need some knowledge in this area and they need to have learned enough about abnormal psychology to recognize when someone’s problem’s require professional help. Knowledge of organizations would also help the pastor assist with church management.

    And if the recent convert had a serious problem like spousal abuse or addiction, it is wrong to assume that conversion will magically make it go away. It is also unconscionable to allow the person to put the pressure of being a pastor and a role model on top of dealing with rehabilitation issues.

    For much of my career I was involved with prisoner rehabilitation and nothing annoyed me more than to see drug treatment agencies hire former addicts as counselors before they had a chance to live with sobriety for a few years and get some professional education. Relapse is common early on and is part of the process but when it happens with a counselor, it is very discouraging to the clients. (Am thinking of a man who ran a prison program for addicts who was arrested for a cocaine fueled fight with a prostitute over money; his wife had left him and he relapsed).

    I think in both these areas, people in leadership roles get so excited about dramatic testimonies that will attract others to their organization, that they overlook the very real pitfalls for the person and people depending on them. It is a betrayal of their organization’s mission.

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  59. Lifewithporpoise, one more egalitarian voice chiming in. I’m a SAHM. I homeschool. I do most of the housework. I submit to my husband.

    He submits to me, too. Both of us are happy as egalitarians.

    And if I wanted to return to a profession that required me to be away from the home, we would work it out. God gives us hearts of flesh so we can listen to the Spirit rather than being bound by laws of men.

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  60. “It seems to me that his decision to go was at the least not wise, even if it was taken with knowledge that it was a calculated risk — but those who either declared him qualified to go and/or failed to stop him from going were likewise culpable, weren’t they?” –brad/futuristguy

    Yes culpable. They should be accountable to Naghmeh and the children. Won’t happen.

    “Recent converts should not be made pastors.” –Marsha

    I contend that there is simply no place for anybody to be made a pastor in the sense that the term is presently understood. According to present practice, a “pastor” is essentially the chief executive officer of a tax exempt religious club. There is no Scriptural precedent for such a position, and certainly not for any such authority-bearing office.

    It isn’t just congregants who are harmed by the elevation of a “pastor” to a position of authority and preeminence. Few if any are able to resist the temptations that must necessarily follow from being placed in a position of power over those who from whom they tend to receive admiration-to-the-point-of-adulation.

    My apologies to those few who are called pastors but who have declined the power and adulation.

    Liked by 2 people

  61. @Marsha:

    Recent converts should not be made pastors. They aren’t prepared to assume this role.

    Type Example: PASTOR Bob Greiner, Calvary Chapel Visalia

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  62. I was thinking the same thing the others have stated about Saeed going into the ministry so quickly. People who do this don’t have enough time of being in fellowship with other christians to mentor them and to study the word of God. I understand they are so gung ho about how they are now a christian and want to tell everybody about it. But they can be as much a benefit to God’s kingdom in staying home, working in the church and being a witness in their communities. I also think this about all those young 20ish men who are now pastors of churches or elders. They don’t have enough life experience behind them, nor do they know how to council people. I guess I am egalitarian because when my first child was born and I went back to work, hubby asked me the first day when supper would be, and I told him he could either fix supper or feed the baby. He fed the baby. We both worked full time and took turns getting up with the kids at night. It was 2 yrs or so before both my kids slept at night. So that is part of the definition of what a real man is to me, one who shares child care duties with the wife totally. No questions asked.

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  63. Thanks Jael 😊💃

    Gary W 👏👏👏

    ” it looks like Saeed’s entry into Iran probably wasn’t illegal, just foolish”.

    I often wonder why so many people go to danger zones, when the USA has entire communities of Muslims needing the good news.

    “I’m going to Iran to tell people about Jesus! It’s a dangerous mission”.

    “Just going down to Dearborn mall to hand out some gospel tracts, in my own time on a Saturday”.

    I remember a girl from my old church used to hate me. I was a threat to her because she liked this boy I was friends with. She was just such a nasty person. One day she declared, “I’m going to be a missionary to Xyz” (chose a nice warm holiday island too btw).

    Everyone threw money at her and I remember thinking at the time…

    “What a b*tch. She wouldn’t know the good news if it smacked her in the face!”.

    I couldn’t understand how such a nasty piece of work could think of going overseas to be a missionary. It didn’t make sense.

    Now it does.

    Christian religion is all role playing. Everyone gets a part.

    Pastor
    Deacon
    Elder
    Missionary
    Congregant
    Member

    The moment you step outside the club you are so free…

    To worship the Lord without having some guy lord it over you.

    Ahhhh.

    Liked by 1 person

  64. The moment you step outside the club you are so free…

    To worship the Lord without having some guy lord it over you.

    Ahhhh.

    I believe this is the case for people like Saeed, and if you look at the AEA site, it is the perfect place to enable this behavior. Most missionaries belong to a group with at least some oversight (either a missionary organization or church).

    I can also think of some street preachers who do the same.

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  65. The thing is, if vetting had been done properly before such an entry decision was made, the decision would not even need to be made. There was substantial reason in that era to find Mr. Abedini as disqualified from ministry leadership, and in need of time away from ministry to focus on personal conformity to the image of Christ. Therefore, he should not have been expecting to go elsewhere to serve.

    Hence, the reason for this post. There were enough people involved in his life who should have said, “No, bro, now is not the time.” I don’t know if Saeed’s pastor, Bob Caldwell and Calvary Chapel Boise actually supported Saeed financially on his trips to Iran, but he supported by going to Iran, the church gave updates on him, etc. If a church draws attention to him, they are in essence telling the church body that they approve of the “ministry.” This essentially is a stamp of approval and also an invitation for others in the church body to get involved financially.

    Now let’s say Caldwell truly thought Saeed was unfit to serve. There should have been nothing mentioned about Saeed anywhere as a missionary supported by the church. In fact, if there was talk amongst congregants, a public disclaimer on the church’s position would have been appropriate.

    I think this is an important point that we so frequently see among church leaders. To remain silent about an issue leads to confusion. If Caldwell thought Saeed was unfit, it would have been awkward to say something, but now look what has happened because of the silence. When you remain silent about a known problem, you become complicit.

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  66. JA, I recently had a chat about church and why we left etc.
    The guy said, “so what happens if someone is converted after you tell them about Jesus? Where do they GO?”.

    I asked, “what do you mean where do they GO?”.

    … “They GO to Christ. They ARE IN the Church, the ONE body of Christ”.

    He continued… “No, but where do they GO to church?”.

    I said, “why would they need to go to church?”.

    He said, “to get fed and for fellowship!”.

    I said, “well, sheep feed themselves and the NT believers never WENT to church”.

    It is a foreign concept that a believer might consider themselves responsible for a new covert’s encouragement in the faith.

    Why would an overseer need to be a “lover of hospitality?”.

    It’s because they would open their homes up for fellowship and exhortation.

    Do you think these NT overseers had Titles and got salaries?

    I wonder if Saaed saw how The Christian Gravy Train worked and thought it worth jumping on board?

    Would we all be “missionaries” if we weren’t paid nor titled?

    Pastors? Would you drop the Title and Pay and be a “lover of hospitality” and close the Temple doors and use your own home for fellowship?

    Doubt it.

    Dirty religion.

    Like

  67. In addition…

    I took the kids for a walk this morning. We live in the city. Workers on their way to work passed us. I saw a van and “homeless people” written on the side.

    I thought how sad it was to have to live in a van.

    I wondered how God would want me as his rep to practically love a homeless person if they were to come to faith (besides helping in the ‘usual way’ we do).

    I wrestle with these thoughts… Knowing full well that religious organisations and churches are only interested in middle and upper class workers who can contribute to the system.

    I wonder if God wants us to open our lives up 100%. Uncomfortable definitely. I just wonder what would happen if we loved people the way Jesus did/does.

    I wonder if I could do more. Not to justify myself before God… But to just love like Jesus

    Liked by 1 person

  68. Here’s the link and introduction to my latest blog post, which reflects some of the thinking I’ve been doing about specific “indicators” for vetting, background checks, and system evaluations, We need these to discern who and what deserves our trust (or doesn’t).

    https://futuristguy.wordpress.com/2016/02/04/project-update-15-indicators-for-discerning-robust-versus-hazardous-systems/

    Recently, I edited a friend’s medical research grant for a follow-up study on a major public health issue. It focuses on identifying specific biological indicators of a particular disease, and figuring out mechanisms for how the interaction of body and “biomarkers” works. If we can discern the connections that predict the disease, then we can work on prevention and improve overall health. This post shares my forthcoming Field Guide’s 15 indicators for discerning what constitutes healthy versus malignant leaders, and trustworthy versus toxic organizations.

    Liked by 1 person

  69. Pingback: Articles on Naghmeh Abedini, who is bravely exposing the abusive behaviour of her husband, Pastor Saeed Abedini | A Cry For Justice

  70. Repeatedly we at ACFJ get reports from hurting wives of abusers who are missionaries and pastors. We have seen cases of gross neglect and spiritual malpractice on the part of churches and missions organizations as they fail to thoroughly background applicants. In our own church in the couple of cases we have had to deal with, we experienced severe criticism and rejection from people (and their allies) who we told were not qualified for missions and that we were turning down their request for our support. Short term missions seem to be a particular loophole for unqualified and in some cases even wicked people to find support for going out on a “mission.” In one case a sexual offender we had to deal with turned up not all that long afterward “serving Christ” in a youth ministry at a church several states away from us. Would that church listen to us? No way. We were, they said, being too unforgiving of the poor fellow.

    Liked by 1 person

  71. “Short term missions seem to be a particular loophole for unqualified and in some cases even wicked people to find support for going out on a “mission.” In one case a sexual offender we had to deal with turned up not all that long afterward “serving Christ” in a youth ministry at a church several states away from us. Would that church listen to us? No way. We were, they said, being too unforgiving of the poor fellow.”

    Strange how churches equate forgiveness with ministry positions and opportunities for abusers and molesters. It is exactly the cover they need so their evil can continue to fool others. Those seriously repenting would not see themselves as qualified.

    Liked by 1 person

  72. Pingback: Don’t be Guilted by the “Gossip Card” | A Cry For Justice

  73. Pingback: Resource Bibliography on the Saeed and Naghmeh Abedini Situation | Spiritual Sounding Board

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