Persecution Fridays: Iran – “Dismantle Evangelism”

March 25, 2011 at 6:30 am | Posted in VOM Fridays | Leave a comment
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Iran: Dismantle Evangelism

Iran’s Religious Leaders Continue Public Attacks on Christianity

Ayatollah Vahid Khorasani spoke out against Christianity and evangelism during a recent religious class at the Islamic seminary in Qom, Iran. On Wednesday, March 9, Khorasani stated, “People [in Iran] have become Christians, and Shiite youths are being misled by Christianity.” His statements were published on the government website “Ayandeh.”

Khorasani told his students, “There is no one to tell to the government officials what this misled and distracted Christian evangelism is doing even in Qom.” Qom, an important religious city for Shiites, is home to the largest center for Shiite scholarship in the world. “Christian-deviated teachings are being diverted to our nation,” Khorasani said. “If the authorities even assume that something is going to shake their power, they will confront it with full force, but they do nothing against these evangelists who are misleading our Shiite youth population.”

Khorasani joins several other religious and political leaders in acknowledging the rapid growth of Christianity in Iran and criticizing the government’s inaction. During an October 2010 visit to Qom, Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, warned against the growth of house churches in Iran. He called house churches “enemies of Islam.” Using similar rhetoric, the governor of Tehran Province, Morteza Tamaddon, has called Christians “radicals who want to corrupt and divert the body of Islam.”

The inflammatory words of Iran’s leaders seem to reflect a rising fear of Christianity within the government. In recent months, Christians in Iran have faced a systematic wave of arrests, and new converts from Islam have been especially targeted. More than 200 Christians have been imprisoned since Christmas. To date, 20 of them have seen no progress in their cases, and they continue to face difficult circumstances inside detention centers.

Evidence of the Iranian government’s disdain for Christianity continues to mount. During a routine inspection of a bus at a border crossing recently, the office of Contraband Search and Seizure, along with members of the revolutionary guard, discovered two boxes containing 300 New Testaments each. The revolutionary guards seized the boxes and burned the Bibles.

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