Iran Facts

Score: 85 / 100
Region: Middle East
Persecution Type: Islamic Oppression
Persecution Level: Extreme
Population: 82,012,000
Christians: 800,000
Main Religion: Islam
Government: Theocratic Republic
Leader: Ayatollah Ali Khamenei

Profile of Persecution

Violence 62%
Church Life 98%
National Life 94%
Community Life 86%
Family Life 85%
Private Life 56%

Illegal to convert, illegal to preach

In what is often referred to as the gateway to the Middle East, Christians in Iran are forbidden from sharing their faith with non-Christians. Consequently, church services in Persian (Iran’s national language) are not allowed. Converts from Islam face persecution from the government. If they attend an underground house church, they face the constant threat of arrest. Iranian society is governed by Islamic law, which means the rights and professional possibilities for Christians are heavily restricted.

How Christians are suffering

Converts from Islam to Christianity bear the brunt of Christian persecution, especially by the government and, to a lesser extent, by their families and society. The government sees them as an attempt by Western countries to undermine Islam and the Islamic regime of Iran.

Leaders of groups of Christian converts have been arrested, prosecuted and have received long prison sentences for “crimes against the national security.” The historical communities of Armenian and Assyrian Christians are recognized and protected by the state but are treated as second-class citizens and are not allowed contact with Muslim background Christians. They are also not allowed to conduct church services in the national language.


Many Christians (especially converts) have been prosecuted and sentenced to long terms in jail. Others are still awaiting trial. During this time, their families face public humiliation.

Several house churches were raided during the 2019 World Watch List reporting period, including arrests or detainment of entire congregations. Most are no longer functioning as house churches.


Pray for Iran

  • Any Muslim who leaves Islam faces a charge of apostasy, and can be thrown in jail or worse. Pray that the laws will change, allowing for freedom of religion.
  • Nearly all churches that held services in Persian have been closed in recent years and their leaders were arrested. Pray for Christians in Iran’s prisons to have genuine love for their guards and fellow inmates.
  • Pray for secret believers who meet in house churches, that they will be protected and will be faithful witnesses to the surrounding culture.

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