ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED July 17th, 2015:
A Christian pastor who was once Muslim spread his message about Islam in the Magic Valley Monday night to a packed church in Filer.
Shahram Hadian, who was born in Iran, gave his presentation as the community engages in a fierce debate about a group of refugees set to arrive later this year. The College of Southern Idaho’s refugee program is right at the heart of the debate. He also weighed in on immigration from Islamic countries.
"The refugee program needs to be halted. So what I said was immigration, lawful immigration needs to be limited, particularly from Muslim countries," Hadian said.
Hadian delivered his message to a full house inside Filer’s Canyon View Baptist Church. Church trustee Rick Martin also has concerns about CSI’s refugee program.
"I believe in voluntary charity. If an individual wants to sponsor a refugee, like an exchange student and house them until they can get on their feet, that's fine. But I think it's unfair to force the taxpayers, again when we are so burdened with debt, to run this program at the college," Martin said.
Martin tells On Your Side it isn't about being anti-Islam and requests people keep an open mind to the pastor’s message.
“I've never met the man until today and talked to him once on the phone. So let's just be open minded," Martin said.
Hadian was clear to point out he doesn’t hate Muslims, he says he loves Muslims, but did call Islam itself demonic. It’s that message that brought critics to the event.
“We have a refugee center here in Twin Falls that has decades of amazing work under its belt and I don't think that that can be undone by one individual coming in from out of state to talk to a handful of people about the dangers of Islam,” Jordan Brady said. “Especially someone who came to the United States as a Muslim immigrant himself and was accepted by the Christian church and now gets to preach the gospel, or what he says it is."
Those who believe in the pastor’s message say it's about safety.
"On the FBI's own information system they have no idea how to tell who is a moderate Muslim and who is a radical Muslim. So again I feel CSI is putting a whole community in danger by continuing with this program," Martin said.
Hadian has a second scheduled event Tuesday night in Twin Falls. He’ll speak at the Eastside Baptist Church at 7 p.m.