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Iran Facts

Score: 85 / 100
Region: Middle East
Persecution Type: Islamic Oppression
Persecution Level: Extreme
Population: 80,946,000
Christians: 800,000
Main Religion: Islam
Government: Theocratic Republic
Leader: Ayatollah Ali Khamenei

Profile of Persecution Methodology

Violence 60%
Church Life 98%
National Life 95%
Community Life 87%
Family Life 84%
Private Life 84%

Where Religious Persecution Comes From

Whereas most persecution of Christians in the Arab Gulf region comes from society or radical Islamic groups, the main threat for believers in Iran comes from the government. The Iranian regime declares the country to be a Shia Islamic State and is constantly expanding its influence. Hardliners within the regime are vehemently opposed to Christianity, and create severe problems for Christians, particularly converts from Islam. Christians and other minorities are seen as threats to this end, and are persecuted as a result. Iranian society as a whole is more tolerant than their leadership, thanks in part due to the influence of moderate and mystical Sufi Islam.

How Christians are Suffering in Iran

While the government is anti-Christian, it does grant some limited freedoms to historical Christian churches. They are allowed to preach to fellow countrymen in their own language but are forbidden from ministering to people from Muslim backgrounds. Members of these historical churches are treated as second-class citizens, and they have reported imprisonment, physical abuse, harassment and discrimination, and jail terms, particularly for reaching out to Muslims. Converts from Islam and non-traditional Christian denominations (including Evangelical, Baptist and Pentecostal communities) experience the worst of the persecution. Leaders and church members have been arrested and imprisoned long-term for “crimes against the national security.”

Examples

During the WWL 2018 reporting period, at least 52 Christians faced persecution and were arrested. Many of them (especially converts), became Christian prisoners and have been prosecuted and sentenced to long prison sentences. Others are still awaiting trial. Their families are publicly humiliated.

In the same reporting period, several house churches were raided, most of which are no longer functioning.

Two reported incidents involved converts persecuted for their faith. One Christian was beaten by his cousin for his conversion. The other convert had to give up payment for his work when his clients threatened to report his conversion to authorities.

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Pray for Iran

  • The main persecution engine in Iran is Islamic oppression. Nearly all churches that held services in Farsi have been closed in recent years, and their leaders arrested. Pray for Christians in Iran’s prisons to have genuine love for their guards and fellow inmates.
  • Shia Islam is the official religion in Iran. All laws must be consistent with the official interpretation of Sharia law. Any Muslim who leaves Islam faces the death penalty, although the authorities haven’t acted on this law in recent years. Pray that the laws will change, allowing for freedom of religion.
  • For a Muslim family, it is a great disgrace when one of its members leaves Islam. Pray for Christians who have been cursed and disowned by their families for their faith.

Stories from Iran

June 24, 2018

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May 1, 2018

“In the six months I was [in prison], they executed 20 people” —Believer from Iran

"Yes, it’s more than worth it. I believe in Jesus, and if this means I have to suffer, then I…

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