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.”
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SOURCE: Mission Network News, Alex Anhalt
CALL TO ACTION
- Pray for Iranian believers seeking freedom in a more restricted world.
- Ask God to move local officials to peace and collaboration rather than persecution.
- Thank Him for the work of groups like Heart4Iran attempting to spread word of this new law.