PERSECUTION: Iranian Court Sentences 12 Christians to Prison for House Church Worship

It’s no secret that living in Iran is less than favorable for Christians.

They have been persecuted day-after-day for their faith in Jesus, some put in jail, others being killed for their beliefs.

Last week an Iranian court sentenced 12 Christians for worshiping in house church fashion. The court cited the “crimes” as “propaganda activities” as the Iranian government believes that anything that teaches differently than the religion of Islam.

Just last month Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu took a stand for the persecuted Christians in Iran, stating Israel’s “complete solidarity” with them.

“Let me say clearly,” Netanyahu explained, “Israel stands in complete solidarity with persecuted Christians in Iran.”

In April 2015, Payam Kharaman, a Christian convert in Iran, was arrested in Bushehr alongside 11 other Christians for practicing their faith. The Iranian government called their worship “Zionist propaganda” and stated that it violated their Islamic Republic’s Shia Muslim-controlled system.

Kharaman was interviewed by Mohabat News when he told them that himself and the 11 others were being accused of pushing messages of propaganda when in reality it was simply the Christian message.

He noted that they were specifically targeted because of their outreach which invited other Iranians to accept Jesus as their Lord and savior. The 12 Christians were also charged with “inclination to the land of Christianity.”

The Islamic Revolutionary Court of Bushehr ruled that the 12 Christians were guilty, lead by Judge Abbas Asgari. Even though the verdict and sentencing took place in June, it wasn’t reported until this month.

When Kharaman was interviewed by Mohabat News he stated that the government’s watchful tendencies started in 2012 when he was first summoned by the government. He recalled that he was called to the Office of Police Monitory Public Place in Bushehr where he was questioned thoroughly on his Christian faith. He believes that the interrogators wanted him to confuse to speaking to people abroad.

“I always insisted on the belief in Christianity for myself and not for promotion of Christianity,” Kharaman said. “Because I had a boutique shop in Bushehr, a number of officers’ family members in the office knew me and informed of heavy sentences against me, and the case which was under investigation by intelligence office. I thought it was just an empty threat, but unfortunately became a serious issue one or two years later.”

On April 7, 2015, three security agents bombarded Kharaman’s home, searching for hours, then taking his computer, cell phone, CDs, books and memory cards. He was once again taken to a government office where he was thoroughly interrogated about his faith.

According to Open Doors USA’s 2018 World Watch List, Iran ranks as the 10th worst country for Christian persecution.

The charges are an “example of inquisition and the violation of the freedom of religion and belief,” Mansour Borji, the advocacy director for the human rights organization Article 18 stated.

“Security agencies, following an ineffective policy in recent years, have tried to eliminate Farsi-speaking Christianity through unlawful pressures and false accusations in revolutionary courts and seemingly legal route,” the director added.

It seems that each month there is a new story surfacing about persecution taking place in Iran towards Christians.

Just last month, four Christians were arrested in Iran for being Christians, including Pastor Youcef Nardarkhani who received a severe sentence of 12 years.

Even though the Christian persecution in Iran is taking place at an all-time high, the underground churches are thriving. Even though the government is trying to stop the spread of the gospel or even the practice of Christianity, the people are not allowing it.

Open Doors reported that there are around 800,000 Christians who are currently living in Iran. The last report was in 2016, where they found around 450,000 Christians to be living in Iran, showing an increase in the number of believers.

Pray for our brothers and sisters in Christ as they face persecution in Iran and in other countries around the world.

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