Christianity is seeing a huge increase in adherents despite being declared illegal in Iran and converts being threatened with detention, torture, and even execution. A testimonial to the tenacity of faith in the face of difficulty is the fact that more than 1.2 million believers today live under the strict authority of the Islamic Iranian regime.
The regime's continued efforts to discourage conversions, which include disseminating misleading information and encouraging unfavorable attitudes toward Christianity, are in direct opposition to the rise in Christian believers.
The Surge in Christian Conversion in Iran Despite Persecution
According to the article in Christian Broadcasting Network, Lela Gilbert, who holds the position of Senior Fellow for International Religious Freedom at the Family Research Council, they hinted that the oppressive steps taken by Iran have barely slowed down the expansion of Christianity. She further clarified that newly converted Christians are propagating their faith through private conversations, internet-based Bible studies, and recounting their personal encounters of visions, dreams, and answered prayers.
Gilbert continued by saying that, in spite of the risks, converts to the faith are eager to share their transformative experiences with their loved ones. Their subdued but unwavering affirmations have contributed to Christianity's quick spread in Iran, where believers meet in simple home churches. She added that those involved with the 'house church' movement in Iran believe that the actual number of Christian believers could be in the millions.
Women like Marziyeh Amirizadeh, who maintained her religious convictions while being imprisoned and subjected to torture in Tehran's notorious Evin Prison, serve as a symbol of this development. According to Charisma News, Amirizadeh, who now resides in the United States, continues to "plant seeds" of Christianity in Iran, share her religion, and fight for the liberation of the Iranian people.
Amirizadeh emphasized the vital importance of international cooperation and urged Christians everywhere to pray for their Iranian neighbors. She urged people to pray for their ability to proclaim the gospel of salvation, for those who have relatives behind bars, and for the fortitude, bravery, and ultimate overthrow of the tyrannical political order.
Christian Persecution in Iran
The persecution of Iranian Christians who converted from Islam, in particular, is getting worse. Christian congregations are at greater risk in the nation's urban areas, where police surveillance and arrests are more common. According to the story in Open Doors, rural areas, however, provide a unique set of problems. Even holding Christian meetings is extremely challenging because of the heavy social pressure and control.
The Iranian Christian community has not experienced any relief during the past year. Instead, it has resulted in a worsening of their circumstances as enormous pressure is applied to every element of life. A more dangerous environment for the faithful is evident from the increase in reported acts of violence against Christians, including kidnappings.
Hardliners who have no tolerance for Christianity, especially conversions, rule all important institutions in the country's political system, including the presidency. A worrisome step toward a totalitarian society is the modification and tightening of the penal code in 2021, which is commonly used to punish Christians. State control over daily life is expanding, as is state monitoring. The harsh responses to the demonstrations that followed Mahsa Amini's passing on September 16, 2022, only serve to highlight this tightening of controls by the authorities.