In the Middle East, the United States has poured money and arms into two principal allies: Israel and Saudi Arabia. Oil, strategic considerations and domestic constituencies have guided these policies. But today, with Iraq a mess and Israeli-Palestinian relations at a nadir, the U.S. would do well to rethink its regional approach.
The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America has reported that its baptized members totaled 4.54 million in 2009—a net loss of 90,850 members and a one-year drop slightly larger than losses in the previous two years. Its number of congregations declined by 48 last year from close to 10,400 churches nationwide.
Iran is a young country: the median age is about 26. Young Iranians, who are connected to the outside world through the Internet and satellite TV, made their presence known in the streets as they protested the outcome of Iran’s presidential election.
An Iranian-American journalist convicted of espionage by Iran’s Rev olutionary Court and sentenced to eight years in prison has become an unwitting figure in the tensions between the United States and the Middle Eastern nation.
In the fourth meeting between Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and religious leaders seeking to keep lines of communication open between Iran and the U.S.—the second such meeting I’ve attended—speakers from Jewish, Muslim, Lutheran and Mennonite communities made brief presentations that were followed by a long response from Ahmadinejad in which he affirmed that “all divine prophets have spoke
Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad dined with 300 religious and political leaders on September 25 in New York City, but the event, which drew condemnation and protest, offered far less dialogue than advertised.
1. The U.S. government’s National Intelligence Estimate reported in November 2007 that Iran halted its nuclear weapons program in the fall of 2003. Iran is developing the capacity to enrich uranium, as it is entitled to do under the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty. International inspectors have found no evidence of an actual nuclear weapons program.
Early in my visit to Iran I was introduced to Nesa, 24, who was eager for contact with Americans. A recent university graduate who hopes to get a doctorate in English literature, she was also eager to explain her nation. “Iran is a complex country,” she said. “And so are the people.”