Date: July 8, 2020
Iran (MNN) — Most of the world has been plunged into a pandemic. In an effort to combat the spread of COVID-19, officials all over the world have asked or required locals to stay home. That means that many groups, including local churches, have been forced to meet online. In fact, many ministries do most of their work online for now.
But if you’re like most of the world, you already know all of that. What you might not know is that a new law in Iran could prevent the Church from spreading the Gospel online. And you wouldn’t be alone; Mike Ansari with Heart4Iran says the law has flown under the radar even for local Iranians.
Iran is not exactly known for its religious freedom. “Traditionally, Iran has had a very strict law on anybody who is a Muslim and becomes a Christian,” Ansari says. “They frown on that and the punishments are very severe: imprisonment or even death.”
Recently, those strict laws have stepped up another level.
“Iran is [accusing] our ministries and others of introducing deviant psychological manipulation or propaganda contrary to Islam, whether in real or virtual space. They are now labeled as sects and punishable with imprisonment, flogging, fines, or even death sentence.”
The new law means not only ministries but counseling services, churches, advice groups, or any teaching contrary to Islam could be labeled “deviant” and “manipulative.” Want to share a Bible verse in response to a friend’s social media? Offer to pray to Jesus during a video call? Create a video series explaining the problems of Islam? In Iran, any of these could feasibly earn you a death sentence.
What’s surprising, Ansari says, is how many people don’t know about the new law. It’s not like this is out of nowhere; a pattern of persecution has existed in Iran for some time now.
“This did not happen overnight. Many people believe that this kind of amendment was part of a greater plan that was put in place by the Iranian supreme leader and his team.”
And yet this new development has largely gone unnoticed. Locals still see Iran as a free country, largely because for majority Muslims, it is. “Sadly, the reality is that the average Iranian that is in Iran is not focusing on minority groups,” Ansari says.
“It’s like an old example; when you put the frog in boiling water, the frog jumps out, but if you put a frog into cold water and slowly increase the temperature, the frog is going to sit through it.”
So what do we do? Ansari is worried that the global Church isn’t going to notice the plight of the Iranian Church. Do not let this story pass silently by.
“When we are quiet towards atrocities and brutalities that we see done in the name of law, in the name of God, many times… there’s a danger of us becoming numb to what is going on,” Ansari says. “Yes, there is a lot of ugliness in the world. But what can we do?”
You can share this crisis. You can support groups like Heart4Iran. You can pray for peace, wisdom, and justice in Iran.
“We want to work with every single one of you guys to bring more awareness to your church. Members need to know about this.”
Use these tools to learn more about the situation in Iran and share the information with your local body of believers. Help advocate for Iranian believers.
“God is speaking to you stand up and be a part of this global movement.”
Header photo courtesy of Unsplash.