many of those in Iran wanting to share the Gospel have been living this season in fear, painfully aware that anyone working to win converts to Christianity, and those Muslims who embrace its message of salvation, may find themselves charged by the Islamic Republic with nebulous religious and secular crimes, some of which carry the death penalty.
Such religious persecution is not unique to Iran—nor is it limited to Christians. The primary focus of the twisted Sunni Muslim death cult that calls itself the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria is the eradication of Shia Islam. The Shiite Iranians, for their part, executed 25 Sunnis in August on various charges including “enmity against God,”according to Amnesty International.
Meanwhile the Bahais, Iran’s biggest religious minority with roughly 300,000 people, are under constant pressure from the regime, which has arrested their community leaders, blacklisted their businesses and makes it dangerous for them to educate their children.
There are about 150,000 Christians in Iran, mostly Armenians who live in relative peace with the regime. They were born Christians, as Iran sees it, and within limits their rights are respected. They have more than 100 churches. Their patriarch visited in 2014. And they are allowed not only to drink, but to some extent to produce alcohol.
But there are also Christians who worship in what are called “house churches” and are part of congregations that may include large numbers of people who were born to Muslim families and converted to Christianity—people whom the Islamic Republic does not accept and actively persecutes.