Middle East

Record Baptisms in Iran Overshadowed by Church Closure as Presidential Election Looms

(UPDATED) Iranian pastor “silent” after release from jail, even as eight Iranian Christians sentenced for supposedly threatening the state.

Update (July 22): Iranian Assemblies of God pastor Robert Asseriyan has refused to speak to media about his experience in an Iranian prison, an apparent condition of his release on July 2, according to Mohabat News. Asseriyan spent 43 days behind bars after being arrested for conducting a church service in Farsi in May.

Meanwhile, eight Iranian Christians convicted of "action against the national security" and "propaganda against the system" have received heavy sentences, but they are expected to appeal the convictions. The eight were arrested for participating in a prayer meeting in October 2012. "'It is now common practice to subject religious minorities to political charges, as any alternative belief system is deemed a threat to the theocratic state,'" Kiri Kankhwende, press officer for Christian Solidarity Worldwide, told Morning Star News.

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When authorities arrested Robert Asserian, a pastor at Central Assemblies of God Church in Tehran, they also posted a sign outside ...

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