In January, questions arose when the release of four Americans imprisoned in Iran coincided with a $400 million cash payment from the U.S. to the Iranian government.
For evangelicals, the release of Pastor Saeed Abedini — who was reportedly imprisoned for years for espousing his Christian faith — was especially significant:
Now, Abedini is once again catching attention — but this time for his political views.
In recent weeks, the pastor has left no doubt that he fully supports GOP nominee Donald Trump:
I voted early today!I voted for Donald Trump. Who are you going to vote for?I had an amazing feeling when I voted.I…
According to Abedini, the reason for his support is simple: Trump had been in favor of the pastor’s release as early as 2013, long before the billionaire businessman was a figure on the presidential stage:
Iran must immediately allow Christian #PastorSaeed out of prison or we should put back sanctions (which should never have been lifted)
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 10, 2013
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 6, 2013
In a Facebook post from Wednesday, Abedini explained exactly why — in his mind — Trump is the only candidate “who has the real heart for America”:
When Donald Trump supported me in prison, he wasn't even a candidate for president. Hillary Clinton didn't do anything,…
Abedini wrote, in part:
“When Donald Trump supported me in prison, he wasn’t even a candidate for president. Hillary Clinton didn’t do anything, and she was the Secretary of the United States of America. She had the position, but didn’t do her job for Americans detained in Iran during the first year I was in prison…
One person who does NOT have a political position but does the responsible thing.
The other person has political position but does NOT do their job.”
According to the pastor, Trump’s support wasn’t only vocal.
Abedini has claimed that the businessman also supported his family financially during his years in the Iranian prison, providing them with “a gift of $10,000.”
While details remain sparse about this gift, it has been confirmed that Trump did meet with the pastor’s wife, Naghmeh Abedini, back in 2013:
@realDonaldTrump Thank you for meeting with me today. It was an honor to meet you. God bless you and your family.
— Naghmeh Panahi (@NaghmehSPanahi) December 10, 2013
By contrast, the pastor has claimed that “Hillary never called my name or called or met my family,” noting that his opportunity to vote for “someone that…fought for me and called my name so many times” has given him an “amazing feeling.”
It’s no secret that, since early in his campaign, Trump has struggled to earn the support of evangelical voters.
It seems clear that — by sharing why he so strongly supports Trump — Abedini is hoping that other Christians will follow in his footsteps.