02/24/2019 Iran (International Christian Concern) – Iranian cleric Hujjat al-Islam Naser Rafiei delivered a speech in Qom (home to the largest Islamic seminary in Iran) which warned against the spread of Christianity throughout the country. He specifically named house churches and evangelical networks as an attraction for Iranian youth whose faith in Islam is diminishing.
This growth in the Iranian church has led the regime to increasingly persecute Christians on the basis that they are seeking to overthrow and occupy Islamic land. The regime, which is heavily influenced by Iran’s clerical class, is feeling pressured because of the widespread discontent of the population. Many Iranians are tired of the strict Islamic moralism imposed upon them by the government. The youth in particular are curious about alternatives, thus opening the door for the spread of the Gospel message.
The Iranian regime does not recognize the religious status of Muslims who convert to Christianity. They are often harassed, detained, imprisoned, and interrogated by the authorities. Christians who can prove their family was Christian before the 1979 Revolution are freer to practice their faith, but still face heavy restrictions. They cannot share their faith and may only worship in designated spaces in a language other than Farsi (Iran’s official language). Any perceived breach of these restrictions can also lead to imprisonment.