Iran’s persecution of Christians is said to be at its worst since the Islamic revolution, and as Islamic law proscribes harsh punishment for apostates, converts from Islam are the most cruelly treated.
Even though some Christian denominations are recognised under the Iranian constitution (in theory providing freedom of worship) the reality is that Christians are treated with discrimination, especially evangelists and house church attendees who are subjected to raids, beatings and imprisonment.
Consequently, hundreds of Christians languish in Iranian prisons. Most are incarcerated on facile charges from “activity hostile to the state” (attending a house church) to “spreading corruption on the earth” (Christian evangelism) the latter carrying a death sentence.
In 2014, Mehdi Vazari and Amir Khan were arrested and imprisoned just for attending a prayer and bible study in the home of another Christian.
Many Christians are held in prison without proper charges filed against them, let alone a conviction! In prison they endure malnutrition, being kept in chains, beatings, negligible medical care, torture, extortion, and on occasion summary execution.
Pastors in particular are targeted for arrest, beatings and detention, as the Iranian authorities seek to break-up Christian activity by leaving congregations leaderless and traumatized. Pastors Behnam, Matthias, Farshid and Abedini are four of many persecuted for serving Christ.
Pray God will bless and sustain all those in Iranian prisons. Thank God Pastor Matthias has since been released. Pray that many more will be set free, and that President Rouhani will bring about institutional change so that the authorities uphold the rights of Christians instead of imprisoning and ill-treating them.