The Religious Right has for the past two years joined with human rights groups in lifting up the case of Kenneth Bae, an American Christian missionary who was imprisoned in a North Korean work camp on charges of trying to overthrow the government.
Bae was released this weekend after the Obama administration sent national intelligence director James Clapper on a secret mission to retrieve him and a fellow American prisoner, Matthew Todd Miller. Upon his return to the United States, Bae thanked President Obama and the State Department for “working tirelessly” to secure his release.
You might expect that a group like the Family Research Council that has been championing Bae’s case would take a break from partisan bickering to celebrate the good news of Bae’s freedom. But you would be wrong!
In his daily email yesterday, FRC’s president, Tony Perkins, reacted to Bae’s release by accusing the Obama administration of not caring enough about Christian political prisoners — like, for instance, Bae. Perkins wrote that the administration’s work to free Bae was “surprising” and went on to attack the president for his “absolute silence” on the imprisonment of American pastor Saeed Abedini in Iran:
Although the suffering left deep scars, Bae insists that he is “recovering.” He and Miller, who the communist government sentenced to hard labor for participating in what they called a “Christian conspiracy,” thanked the Obama administration for sending a “brief message” through his intelligence officials asking for Bae and Miller’s release. For the President, it was a surprising move given his absolute silence on Pastor Saeed Abedini, another American who languishes in a torturous existence at the hands of a ruthless Iranian government.
Meanwhile, here at home, his family’s pleas to the White House continue to fall on deaf ears. As we cheer Kenneth and Matthew’s release, our earnest prayers continue to lift up the millions of people — like Pastor Abedini — who are shackled for the true freedom of Jesus Christ.
In fact, Secretary of State John Kerry has repeatedly urged Iran to release Abedini and President Obama personally pressed for Abedini’s release in a phone call with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani last year.