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1999 NCC News Archives

June 14, 1999, Statement of the Rev. Dr. Joan Brown Campbell
General Secretary of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the USA
On Behalf of Iranian Jews Arrested, Imprisoned on Espionage Charges

The National Council of Churches is the nation’s oldest and most inclusive national ecumenical body. Its 35 member churches, with a combined membership of 52 million Christians, speak with one voice on matters of profound moral concern. The imprisonment of 13 Jews including one rabbi, in Iran is such a concern about which Christians of goodwill must speak.

By all indications, these 13 people are imprisoned and threatened with trial on charges of espionage solely because they are Jews. Such religious persecution is not a Jewish problem, but a humanitarian problem. As Christians we must speak out on behalf of those held captive. The gospel message on which we base our lives compels us to be advocates for justice, human rights and the rule of law.

We are pleased today to join with our sisters and brothers from the churches, the Jewish community and other people of faith, and with the Rev. Jesse Jackson to call for the immediate release of those held captive. We know, in part from our long ties to people of faith in Iran itself, that the prayers of the faithful around the world – in Iran, in Israel and in the United States - are heard by the God who created us all, as one holy offering on behalf of those who suffer.

We pledge ourselves to continual prayer and to energetic advocacy on behalf of these 13 Jews. As we learned in Yugoslavia, the release of prisoners is a light in the darkness, and brings hope to a war weary world.

We strive for a peaceful world, and pray for the day when all nations, our own included, make peace a priority. The beloved community will only be a reality when men and women of every race, religion and cultural identity live in respect for one another.

June 14, 1999

-end-

Note: The statement was read on Dr. Campbell’s behalf, in her absence, at an interfaith news conference Monday, June 14, at the Isaiah Wall, across the street from the United Nations headquarters in New York City. Jesse Jackson and religious leaders called for the immediate release of 13 Jewish prisoners in Iran – a rabbi, religious teachers and community activists accused of espionage by the Iranian government.

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