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Alabama officials call on Nicaragua to free Christian pastors imprisoned ‘for sharing the Gospel’

U.S. Representative Robert Aderholt (R-Haleyville) spearheaded a letter addressed to the Ambassador of Nicaragua expressing deep concern over violations of religious freedom in Nicaragua and calling for the release of imprisoned pastors.

In December, eleven Nicaraguan pastors and other individuals associated with Mountain Gateway — a Christian organization based in Texas with missionary presence in North and Central America — were arrested and imprisoned by the Nicaraguan government without access to legal counsel, understanding of the allegations against them, or documentation of their alleged criminal charges, according to Aderholt’s office.

“We are deeply concerned for the welfare of these Christian men and women of faith who have been arrested and imprisoned for no other offense than sharing the Gospel,” Rep. Aderholt said.

“It was religious persecution that detained them, and it is blatant human rights violations that have kept them detained – these pastors must be released immediately.”

Aderholt’s letter has been signed onto by 58 Members of Congress — including the entirety of Alabama’s delegation to Washington — U.S. Sens. Tommy Tuberville, Katie Britt, and U.S. Reps. Gary Palmer (R-Hoover), Dale Strong (R-Monrovia), Jerry Carl (R-Mobile), Barry Moore (R-Enterprise) and Terri Sewell (D-Birmingham).

“As Members of the United States Congress, we have a vested interest in both the upholding of international religious freedom, and the safety and security of the American citizens we understand are currently being targeted for arrest and extradition by the Nicaraguan government,” the letter reads.

The arrested and imprisoned people include a young mother of a newborn and a toddler, both of whom are Americans. She has not been allowed any contact with her children since December.

Subsequent to the arrests of Nicaraguan nationals, the Ortega regime issued warrants for the arrest of the American leadership of Mountain Gateway, Jon Britton Hancock and his son and daughter-in-law Jacob and Cassandra Hancock.

This targeted action follows a pattern by the Nicaraguan government, including the arrests of several members of the Catholic Church, Red Cross, and other non-governmental organizations in recent years.

U.S. Rep. Barry Moore introduced a resolution condemning the imprisonment.

“The unjust imprisonment of these pastors, who have dedicated their lives to sharing the Gospel, has left families without income and children without parents,” Moore said. “Their religious rights are being grossly violated. I am praying for these pastors and their families, and I call on the Nicaraguan government to take immediate action and release them so they can be reunited with their families.”

U.S. Rep. Dale Strong also signed onto the letter and elevated the calls of more than 50 members of Congress on social media post on Friday.

“As Americans, we believe that every person on this planet is ‘endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights.’ Religious freedom is at the very top of this list and must be protected at every turn, I join my colleagues in calling on the Nicaraguan government to stop targeting American citizens and to faithfully uphold religious freedom, which is sacrosanct under both international law and universal standards of human rights,” U.S. Senator Katie Britt said.

U.S. Rep. Jerry Carl said he’s “demanded Secretary Blinken engage in this matter.”

“I am fighting for these Christians who have been wrongfully imprisoned for sharing the gospel to be freed. I have demanded Secretary Blinken engage in this matter. I have joined several of my colleagues in expressing our concern to the Nicaraguan Ambassador regarding these violations of religious freedom that must be addressed,” Carl said.

“The persecution of Christians around the world is unacceptable and will not be tolerated.”

U.S. Senator Tommy Tuberville spoke to the foundational mission of Mountain Gateway’s Central American efforts — and how persecution by Nicaragua is especially shameful.

“Britt Hancock began Mountain Gateway Ministries with a vision to bring help and hope in Nicaragua. Thousands of Nicaraguans—including orphans and those struggling with substance abuse—have benefited from his sacrifice. Britt’s selflessness to help those in Nicaragua should be applauded, not persecuted,” Sen. Tuberville (R-Auburn) said.

“The unprompted attacks toward Mountain Gateway from the Nicaraguan government are unacceptable. I’m proud to join Congressman Aderholt in seeking answers on this matter, and call on the Nicaraguan government to immediately stop its attack on American missionaries. I will keep fighting until the matter is resolved and we are assured that missionaries can safely carry out their ministry callings without fear of arrest.”

Grayson Everett is the state and political editor for Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @Grayson270

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