Guest / Limited Access /
Public Enemy: Iran's Persecution Backfires
Courtesy of Elam Ministries

A major spike in the harassment and arrest of Iranian Christians in recent months is re-vealing just how nervous the Islamic republic is about the prodigious success of house churches, say Iranian Christian leaders.

At least 202 Christians in 24 cities faced "arbitrary" arrest between June 2010 and January 2011, according to Elam Ministries. Elam, run by Iranian expatriates, counted 80 arrests over 2008 and 2009 combined.

"[Iran] has been substantially more public in its oppression of Christianity," said Todd Nettleton, a spokesman for Voice of the Martyrs. "Announcing it on the news, having the mullahs talk about it in their Friday sermons—it's just become a lot more out in the open."

"Persecution has escalated to an unprecedented level," said Abe Ghaffari, executive director of Iranian Christians International. While Iran's historic Armenian and Assyrian congregations usually enjoy freedom of worship, Farsi-speaking house churches hosting converts from Islam work under significant threat.

"In effect, recognition of Christians in the laws of Iran has now become basically recognition of an ethnicity rather than faith," said Hussein Jadidi, a human rights lawyer who recently fled Iran after he became a target in a Christmas sweep that caught 70 other Christians.

The government is concerned, observers say, because more and more Iranian Muslims are converting to Christianity. The house church movement is booming, with converts estimated in the hundreds of thousands. Evangelists are distributing large numbers of New Testaments, and satellite television continually beams Christian programs into the country.

"The government always used to deny ...

Subscriber access only You have reached the end of this Article Preview

To continue reading, subscribe now. Subscribers have full digital access.

Read These NextSee Our Latest
Also in this Issue
Subscriber Access Only Go Figure
Recent stats on science, health, and more.
RecommendedThe Real Theological Issue Between Christians and Muslims
The Real Theological Issue Between Christians and Muslims
It's not about a different God, it's about a different Jesus.
TrendingBen-Hur
Ben-Hur
A new twist on the tale of the Christ.
Editor's PickA Lament for Louisiana After the Floods
Subscriber Access Only A Lament for Louisiana After the Floods
As I grieve the tragedy in my home state, I’ve found solace in a surprising place.
Christianity Today
Public Enemy: Iran's Persecution Backfires
hide thisJune June

In the Magazine

June 2011

To continue reading, subscribe now for full print and digital access.