Iran is now claiming that Pastor Yousef Nadarkhani is not going to be executed for apostasy. Instead, demonstrating that chutzpah is not just a Jewish characteristic, the regime is claiming he’s facing the death penalty for rape and extortion. According to Fox News:

Iran state media put out a stunning report Saturday claiming that imprisoned Christian pastor Yousef Nadarkhani is facing the death sentence for rape and extortion, not for apostasy and refusing to renounce his religion, as his lawyer, human rights groups and Western news media have reported.

“His crime is not, as some claim, converting others to Christianity,” the deputy governor of the Gilan province, Gholomali Rezvani, told Fars, the semi-official state news agency.

“We’re trying to determine if this is the state-controlled media throwing it out there,” said Jordan Sekulow, Executive Director of the American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ).

“There’s been no mention of any other charges than apostasy in trial documents.”

In a ruling from the Iranian Supreme Court, translated into English by the ACLJ, Nadarkhani was sentenced to execution by hanging for, “turning his back on Islam” and “converting Muslims to Christianity.”

The ruling also alleges that he also participated in Christian worship by holding home church services and baptizing himself and others, effectively breaking Islamic Law. obtained a copy of the ruling and there is not a single mention of rape or extortion allegations.
“The only question now is whether the Iranian government is actually leveling these new charges against him in court or just throwing out new accusations to try and deflect media attention,” Sekulow said.

I don’t know the answer to that question, but there’s no mystery about the motivation. International attention has now been focused on Pastor Nadarkhani, and there are obviously some in Iran’s government that want him dead, so they are looking for an excuse to execute him that will get the international community off their backs.

Keep praying, and if you haven’t written to the Iranian Embassy to protest the barbaric treatment the pastor has received, you can do so here.