On Jan. 27, Iran strengthened its attempt to humiliate America: Rev. Saeed Abedini, 32 years old and an American citizen, was sentenced to eight years in Iran’s most cruel prison for “threatening the security of Iran.”

His crime? Still unclear, but according to sparse news reports, Abedini met with fellow Christians in homes over six years “encouraging them in their faith.” He was not plotting terrorism, smuggling guns or bombs, promoting public dissent, or organizing protests.

The president and Congress should demand Abedini’s immediate release. No chit should be offered, no accolades for compliance; just a reminder that only insecure governments are threatened by ideas. Especially when that idea includes a much needed orphanage in Iran, no less.

Juxtaposed to Iran, the West’s response to differing religions except when they violate law seems lacking in conviction, but it’s not. Rather than threaten to imprison others, Western policy reflects antiquity’s Biblical teaching to, “bear with great patience those who oppose us hoping that God will grant them repentance unto life.”

So you can understand America’s practice of government through civil debate, printed and broadcast dissent, noisy and messy public protests — all that public discourse includes. We may appear gridlocked, incoherent, certainly not offering the ease of definition and execution Iran’s totalitarian government enjoys. Westerners are offered freedom of thought; apparently a most undervalued and luxurious indulgence bid even higher by this decision.

God bless Saeed Abedini, a selfless, brave American.

Wayne Mayo