TEHRAN, IRAN (ANS) -- Despite pressures and threats on one hand and the ban of printing and selling gospels on the other hand, Christianity is increasingly spreading among the youth and families in Iran.
Mohabat News, an Iranian Christian news agency, reports that according to Article 13 of the Islamic Republic of Iran's constitution, "Iranian Christians, Jews and Zoroastrian minorities are the only recognized religious minorities, who, within the limits of the law, are free to perform their religious rites and ceremonies, and to act according to their own canon in matters of personal affairs and religious education."
Article 14 also states that "the government of the Islamic Republic of Iran and Muslim citizens are obligated to behave honorably towards non-Muslims and to interact with them with justice and good ethics and that they should honor their human rights."
However, Mohabat News says the situation in Iran is not like that in reality.
The news agency says: “The freedom and good ethics described in books is replaced by threats, imprisonments, beatings and hangings for these minorities, especially Christians. The government does not tolerate these minorities nor does it give them the right to live without fear.”
According to an article published by Mohabat News on March 14 this year, the Office of Contraband Search and Seizure, along with the Revolutionary Guards, discovered two boxes, each containing 300 New Testaments, in a routine border inspection of a bus and, after removing them from the bus, burned them.
The agency says: “The rapid growth of the Christian faith in Iran seems to have caused significant concern and even fear in the hearts of the leadership of the Islamic regime, which has sparked increased suppression of Christians especially in the last year.
“After the Supreme Leader Ali Khameniei's speech regarding the need to oppose and silence the home-based churches, a brutal and inhumane crackdown along with numerous arrests of Christians inside Iran has been witnessed. It is shameful to see the authorities show complete disregard for the sacred Scriptures of more than two billion Christians around the world, while burning those scriptures with disrespect.”
Mohabat News says the word of God is making its way into many Iranian homes.
According to the reports published by the government-run website Hamsed, the head of the Islamic Thoughts and Culture's research center acknowledged the penetration of the Torah and Gospel (Pentateuch and New Testament) among Iranians in a ceremony in auditorium of the office of the Islamic propaganda. He said, "Today, the gospel is available in 3,000 languages around the world, while the number of translations of the Quran hardly reaches 100.”
Mohabat News says Mullah Sadegh Reshad and his colleagues insulted the Holy Bible, claiming that it was distorted.
The Mullah said: "The gloss and interpretations of the worthless content of the Gospel and Torah has penetrated throughout the world and has even entered the Iranian borders and has made its way into the houses and minds of the youth. But we are still doing nothing. We are stuck and can't decide whether to lift our pens and write or not."
Mohabat News says: “Although the Mullah insulted the Bible to this extent and called it a book with worthless content, he neglected to answer his own question concerning why and how this very same book was able to cross the country's borders, which the Revolutionary Guard's margraves are guarding, and make its way into Iranian homes! No doubt, the Spirit of the Living God finds and penetrates every thirsty and eager heart and satisfies it with His own word.”
Mohabat News explained that the judicial system and religious figures of the Islamic republic “use deceptive and hollow titles (like the distorted Gospel and Torah) to justify their own shameful acts. ... But it's evident to all that insulting the integrity of the Christian Scriptures is nothing other than the continuation of a previously designed and prioritized strategy of the regime to confront and oppose the growth of Christianity inside Iran.”
The news agency goes on to say: “The fear of the spread of Christianity among the younger generation of Iran has caused the regime to use every possible strategy to crack down on the followers of Christianity and to prevent its growth among the youth and Iranian families. One of the boldest strategies is to burn confiscated Bibles. What is remarkable here is that none of the Iranian authorities took the responsibility for burning the Bibles.
“At the same time, the representatives of the minorities in the Iranian Parliament never reacted or raised their voices in protest against the burning of Bibles, the destruction of a church in Kerman, the closure of some churches, nor the arrest of a number of Christian leaders.”
The news agency went on to say that in a ruling, the Ministry of the Culture and Islamic Guidance has forbidden all bookstores from selling the Gospels approved by the official churches of Iran.
“And still the religious figures of [the] regime acknowledge that the gospel is spreading throughout the country,” it said.
Mohabat News concluded: “Although talking about the gospel and discussing Christian theology is a risky endeavor with potentially serious consequences, Christian youth and many other people clearly talk about these issues and share the message of Christ's love with others.”
Michael Ireland is senior correspondent for ANS. He is an international British freelance journalist who was formerly a reporter with a London (UK) newspaper and has been a frequent contributor to UCB UK, a British Christian radio station.
Publication date: October 21, 2011