Evangelicals Commend Obama on Religious Freedom

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Leaders of the National Association of Evangelicals say President Barack Obama appears committed to addressing the issue of religious persecution at home and abroad.

NAE members met with the president this week to discuss, among other things, the case of Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani, who's facing the death penalty in Iran because of his Christian faith.

"We commend the president for his efforts with the Iranian pastor and the continued efforts to protect religious liberty," Rev. Samuel Rodriguez told CBN News.

"There are issues of religious persecution around the world and the president has made it an integral part of his foreign policy," he added.

Rodriguez said there's a lot of work being done to pressure Iran over Nadarkani's situation.

"We would like to see nations across the world, every single nation embrace the idea that there is a marketplace of a religious faith narrative," he said.

"We continue to press forward looking for what we can do to help as Americans in leading the charge," he said.

President Obama is the first Democratic president to meet formally with the NEA.

Rodriguez said Obama was very transparent with the group and interacted like he was "one of our own."

"It was a conversation amongst friends and amongst believers," Rodriguez said.

The leaders also discussed immigration reform and challenges to traditional marriage.

"It's a good day in America when evangelical leaders can meet with the president of the United States," he said. "And discuss the issues of mutual concern, and how the faith community can help the president pray, can support the president in areas of agreement, and likewise share areas where there may be disagreement but do it in a way that is civil."

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