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Describing it as an "Esther call," about 650 pastors and Christian leaders called on members of Congress to oppose the Iranian nuclear deal, saying it posts an existential threat to both Israel and the United States.
"Just as God empowered Moses and Esther to speak to their ancient leaders, I'm now calling on the men and women of Aglow to follow our biblical role models and talk to our modern leaders," says Jane Hansen Hoyt, president and chief executive officer of Aglow International.
Coming together under the banner of American Christian Leaders for Israel, the network sent a petition to the White House and members of Congress on Thursday, urging them to oppose any agreement that does not dismantle Iran's nuclear program.
The pastors and Christian leaders represent tens of millions of Americans.
Jerry A. Johnson, president and chief executive officer of the National Religious Broadcasters; Mario Bramnick, president of the Hispanic Israel Leadership Coalition; and Roberta Combs, president and chief executive officer of the Christian Coalition of America, adorn the list of prominent Christian leaders involved in the movement. The list of the petition's signers can be found here.
Bramnick says members of Congress and the American people need to understand the potential ramifications of the nuclear deal from a biblical standpoint.
"We need to know that in Genesis we are mandated to bless Israel and that those who bless Israel will be blessed and those who curse Israel will be cursed," Bramnick says. "The U.S. now, from a biblical standpoint, is in a very dangerous situation. Our administration through this deal has turned its back on Israel, jeopardizing the security of Israel and opening the potential floodgates with issues regarding the judgment of the Lord."
The deal would allow Iran to continue its nuclear operations as it has been through "deception and delay" and would not require "real inspections," Bramnick says. Iran would receive more than $100 billion in sanctions relief to "help fund terrorism and strengthen Iran's reach worldwide through Hezbollah, Hamas and other proxies," he says.
"Also, there were secret deals that allows Iran to collect its own soil to prove compliance without any inspections, and most outrageously, a secret deal that would have the U.S. administration defending Iran against attacks from 'outside countries'—in other words, Israel if it would seek to sabotage Iran's nuclear program.
"This deal, if the truth of the deal is ever made known to the American public, should be an outrage to every American whether they are Christians or not, and whether they are Republicans or Democrats. It not only poses an existential threat to the security and safety of Israel; it is a major threat to our own national security."
Joel Rosenberg, a New York Times best-selling author and a former adviser to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, says he's grateful to see Christian leaders speaking out against what he called the "most dangerous agreement with an enemy of the West since Neville Chamberlain's Munich Pact with Hitler."
"It will not bring peace in our time any more than Chamberlain's appeasement of Hitler brought peace in his," Rosenberg says. "As more than 200 U.S. military leaders have stated, this deal actually increases the likelihood of war in the Middle East. It puts the American people, the Israeli people and our Arab allies in grave danger of attack from the Persian bomb in the years ahead.
"Congress must use its constitutional authority to stop it. The next president must dismantle it and do everything necessary to neutralize the Iran nuclear threat. And Christians must hold our leaders' feet to the fire to do the right thing, before it's too late."
Susan Michael, the U.S. director for the International Christian Embassy Jerusalem, says millions of Americans are opposed to the "disastrous" deal and that the ACLI is "asking members of Congress to set aside partisan issues and vote against the agreement."
"We began this in January because it is inevitable that Israel will face this major crises with Iran sooner or later," Michael says. "We formed this network and mobilized quickly. We must continue to keep raising our voice and to continue to stay on top of what Iran is doing. This network of Christian leaders in support of Israel is unprecedented and reflects the gravity of the situation."
Johnson says there were several obvious reasons why ACLI members are opposed to the deal with Iran. They include the lack of trustworthiness of the Iranian government and the potential for heightened terrorism when sanctions are lifted.
"Common sense tells you that this is a bad deal. Aren't you supposed to treat your friends better than your adversaries?" Johnson asked. "To pacify your adversary and to put Israel at risk ... their Ayatollah recently put out a book that said their No. 1 goal is to destroy Israel. That's a deal breaker right there.
"They (Iran) are bad faith actors. They have demonstrated that since their revolution (in 1979). Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me. They are definitely not a people you can trust."
A majority of the Senate and House disapproves of the deal, but President Obama has indicated he will veto any vote against the agreement. In the event of a veto, the matter would go back to the House and Senate for a potential override vote requiring a two-thirds majority of both houses.
"The votes have not actually been made yet," Bramnick said. "One possibility is that once all the truth is known that members of Congress might decide to change their votes, or if there is enough outrage among their constituencies, that members of Congress would vote based on the merits of their disapproval versus political party politics."
Sandy Wezowicz, the Israel education director for Aglow International, says Iran is one of the "greatest state sponsors of terrorism."
"Now there is going to be untold billions of dollars flowing into Iran to fund terrorism," Wezowicz says. "Even if only 10 percent of that money went in that direction, the ramifications of that are simply frightening.
"For way too long, Christians have stood back and not participated in things like this. We are not releasing our voice into government and culture. We're supposed to be a voice for the country. We need to raise our level of concern. The Christian community needs to rally worldwide."
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