A delegation of religious leaders from Iran was supposed to arrived in the US today to meet with Christian leaders from the United Methodist, Episcopal, Baptist, Catholic, Evangelical, Quaker, and Mennonite traditions, but at the last minute their visas were denied. The visit reciprocates a visit last February by American Christian leaders to Iran for face-to-face dialouge, the first since the fall of the Shah of Iran in 1979.
According to a report in the blog Ekklesia, the visit was sponsored by these faith-groups plus the National Council of Churches and Sojourners/Call to Renewal.
The (Bush) administration denied visas to four of fourteen Iranians invited to the United States, including the two leaders of the delegation. The Iranians were invited to meet with their counterparts in the United States this September as the next step in an ongoing dialogue with a diverse group of Christian leaders from United Methodist, Episcopal, Baptist, Catholic, Evangelical, Quaker, and Mennonite traditions. The U.S. group traveled to Iran in February 2007 at the invitation of Iranian religious leaders and the government. Members of the U.S. delegation hoped that by reciprocating the Iranians’ hospitality, they could further work to inspire the governments and people of both countries to commit to a diplomatic solution to the ongoing dispute between the United States and Iran. Words not war could answer the national interests of both peoples.