FoxNews—Government agents shut down Iran’s largest Persian-language Pentecostal church Monday, just one week after one of its pastors was arrested and hauled away midway through a worship service.
The closing of Central Assemblies of God church in Tehran is the latest case of the Islamic Republic’s leadership cracking down on Christians ahead of the June 14 presidential election to replace President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Leaders appear especially wary of groups deemed dangerous to their power base, including growing Christian churches, according to Iranian Christians and rights groups who spoke to BosNewsLife, a news agency that specializes in the plight of Christians in Middle Eastern nations.
"These incidents appear to be an attempt to stop worship services from being conducted in Farsi, the language of the majority of Iranians," George Wood, general superintendent of the AoG in the U.S., told the service. "Services are allowed in Armenian, a minority language that most Iranians do not speak or even understand."
On May 21, authorities grabbed Pastor Robert Asserian while services were under way. They have not told parishioners where he is being held.
"Before going to the church, authorities raided Pastor Asserian’s home, where they confiscated a computer and several books,” Wood said. “Then, they found Pastor Asserian at the church leading the prayer service, immediately arrested him and announced the church’s imminent closure."
Christian groups fear a further erosion of what little tolerance of religious diversity has existed in Iran. Some estimates place the number of Iranian Christians, many of them converts from Islam, at about 100,000, in a nation of 75 million. (Continue Reading.)
Tuesday, May 28, 2013
Iran Continues Crackdown on Christian Churches and Pastors
It's open season on Christians in the Muslim world. Meanwhile, Muslim groups like CAIR and ISNA continue to complain about "Islamophobia" in the West (where "Islamophobia" usually means that some people quote Muslim sources as they criticize the teachings of Muhammad).