TEHRAN, IRAN (ANS) -- Following a report by Iranian Christian news agency Mohabat News concerning the spread of Christianity among Iranian youth, the government-supported daily Jomhouri-e-Eslami (Islamic Republic) has reacted by saying that the report is a claim made by the “Western political clique!”
The Tehran-based newspaper claimed: “While Western media keep reporting that people in Europe and America are converting to Islam, the agents of Western political cliques claim that Iranian youth show a sincere interest in Christianity. These claims are being made to cover up the fact that Western people are coming towards Islam.”
This government-supported daily also said in another part of its article: “A person who introduced himself as the spokesman of the Iranian church of Europe said in an interview with a Farsi website that Iranian youth are learning about Christianity through the Internet and Christian television channels. He even claimed that people in the religious cities of Qom and Mashhad are showing more interest in Christianity than people in other cities.”
A portion of an article published on Sunday, November 6, 2011, by Mohabat News states, “The broad range of Iranian people [are] watching Christian television programs or accessing Christian websites, in addition to the number of contacts that people, especially from religious cities of Iran, make with Christian media, shows nothing but a growing interest of Iranian people in converting to Christianity.”
A spokesperson for Mohabat News said: “Obviously, the editor in chief and writers for Jomhouri-e-Eslami are willing to close their eyes to this clear fact and are seeking to portray an image of Iranian society from their own preconceptions and impressions. It’s completely understandable that they publish stories prepared by people who are more interested in their salaries than a desire to report facts.
"This prompt and immature reaction of Jomhouri-e-Eslami reflects a nervousness among the writers and leaders of the media who serve the regime. They do not accept Iranian society as it now is.
"However, the word of God clearly says, 'Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free' [John 8:32]."
The spokesperson went on to say, “Some pro-regime news media quote Jomhouri-e-Eslami daily in reporting that nothing is going on in the religious cities and that all reports to the contrary are only rumors, but the domestic media, judicial and security authorities and Islamic clerics tell a different story.
"Contradictions among government supported media are not hidden from anyone. According to Jomhouri-e-Eslami, two weeks ago, Ayatollah Hashemi Rafsanjani, Chairman of the Council of Guardians and considered one of the main pillars of the Regime before the controversial election in 2009, seriously warned the authorities about the turning of Iranian youth away from Islam. He asked all the wise men and clerics to make serious efforts to prevent this trend in society from spreading and to do a better job in this area!
“The Jomhouri-e-Eslami daily is calling the spread of Christianity a rumor while on Saturday, October 2, 2011, the government-supported news website Javan-Online [backed by the Revolutionary Guards] acknowledged the tendency of society towards Christianity and also reported that the number of house churches in the religious city of Mashhad is growing. Javan-Online reported that 200 churches have been discovered in Mashhad in a period of months.
"More importantly, the movement of Iranian youth to Christianity has even penetrated and spread among children and families of high authorities of the regime. Certainly, the publishers of Jomhouri-e-Eslami remember how news of the conversion to Christianity of a son of one of Ayatollah Mesbah Yazdi’s assistants shook both the foreign and domestic media.
"The anxiety over the increasing spread of Christianity among Iranian youth has grown to the extent that even Ayatollah Vahid Khorasani, a well-known religious guidance source in the Islamic regime, complained about this situation during a meeting with seminary students and Islamic clerics of the grand mosque of Qom. He warned about statistical evidence reflecting this tendency of youth toward Christianity even in the city of Qom.”
The spokesperson then added: “Beyond all these reports, anxiety over the growth of house churches has even affected speeches of the Supreme Leader, Ali Khamenei, and has become one of his concerns. This worry caused him to make an unsolicited confession during a speech in the city of Qom some time ago. He said that ‘the purpose of the “enemies of Islam” is to weaken our religion in society by spreading false mysticism, the Baha'i faith and house churches.'
“The Jomhouri-e-Eslami daily must know there are many more acknowledgments of the growth of Christianity by Ayatollahs and security authorities of the regime. They have no option but to accept it. Heydar Moslehi [head of the Ministry of Intelligence] made a remarkable statement in this regard in a meeting with the heads of education of Iran. He warned them about the spread of Christianity in schools and among students and called it 'one of the elements of the "soft war" against Islam.'
“In this connection, we can point to various acknowledgments including statements by Ayatollah Mohammad Taqi Mesbah Yazdi about the spread of Christianity in some provinces of Iran. Ayatollah Sobhani spoke of the conversion of 600 people to Christianity in the city of Neishabour.
“A specialist on religious issues also warned about the increasing interest of Iranian citizens in Christianity and their determination to obtain a copy of Bible in spite of all the prohibitions against the publication and distribution of Christian books inside Iran.
“These quotations and statistics are not provided by a Christian news website but are excerpts from speeches of high level religious and non-religious authorities of Iran. These people serve in senior positions in the Iranian theocracy and play a significant role in the regime. These quotes are from people who know very well what is taking place in the country. The result of all these acknowledgments or confessions today is nothing but enthusiasm among the people of Iran for gaining access to the truth that is found in the words of the Gospel.”
Information available to Mohabat News indicates that the pace and scope of the spread of Christianity in Iran is so “fast and broad” that “even among members of the armed forces and the Pasdaran Army [the Revolutionary Guards] many have turned to Christianity or are seriously investigating the Christian faith.”
Dan Wooding is an award-winning British journalist now living in Southern California with his wife Norma, to whom he has been married for 48 years. They have two sons and six grandchildren who all live in the UK. He is the founder and international director of ASSIST (Aid to Special Saints in Strategic Times) and the ASSIST News Service (ANS) and was, for 10 years, a commentator on the UPI Radio Network in Washington, D.C.
Publication date: November 15, 2011