Iranian Pastor Sentenced to Six Years in Prison for Spreading Christianity
The Iranian government has gone to radical extremes in sentencing a Christian Pastor to six years in prison for spreading the faith. In the past, it has been common practice for Iranians to detain Christian pastors for spreading the gospel. One such devout pastor, Behnam Irani, has been threatened with his life for spreading the word of God. Authorities have claimed that in spreading a religion other than their version of Islam, it is considered blasphemous and corrupt to spread the gospel. Pastors involved in gospel missions have been grilled and interrogated for endless hours only to be handed preposterous prison sentences.
Irani’s charges were later reduced to “action against national security and creating a network to overthrow the system” possibly due to international pressure. Although, this did not deter Judge Asel Al-Hosseyn in declaring Irani and his near church associates as guilty of these alleged crimes. They were each handed six-year terms for these supposed crimes against the state. The international and Christian community members alike were not surprised by Iran’s absurd allegations and sentencing of these pastors.
Many skeptics believe that Iran’s initial threat of a death sentence may have been made to defect the international community’s unrest over a long-term prison sentence. Unfortunately, Irani’s deteriorating health will turn the six-year sentence into an inevitable death sentence. If Irani lives to be released in 2023, he will have missed the most crucial years of his 6-year-old and 12-year-old daughters lives. Even more distressing is that the prison that Irani is serving his double six-year sentence is filled with drug dealers and smugglers who are bringing opium into the country making it an extremely dangerous place for anyone let alone a man of the gospel.
Newly elected president, Hassan Rouhani, is concerned about the growing number of Muslims embracing the Christian faith. Record numbers of Muslims are embracing the gospel and have been forced to flee the country due to fear of persecution and eventual death penalties. Rouhani has been cracking down harder on these Christians for fear of growing numbers of conversions. One such high profile case was Youcef Nadarkhani who faced the death penalty for protesting against the Iranian’s government’s new policy to require all children to study the Qu’ran. The Iranian Supreme Court informed Nardarkhani that he could save himself form the death penalty if he converted to Islam. His refusal landed him back on death row and he was only released after outcries from a number of international communities.
With an unyielding regime that refuses to allow people to practice their basic human rights, it is clear as to why there are so many conversions to the Christian faith by Muslims in Iran. People are looking for a religion that allows them to express their basic human rights in a society that has stifled their very existence. Islam in Iran has not been able to provide these human rights for a growing number of discontented Muslims and their God-given choice to seek this in Christianity has them facing prison terms and death penalties.
Clark, H. (2014, October 24). Iranian pastor sentenced to six years in prison for spreading Christianity. Retrieved October 25, 2014, from http://christiannews.net/2014/10/24/iranian-pastor-sentenced-to-six-years-in-prison-for- spreading-christianity/
Hexham, I. (2014). Origin and Nature Religious World Views. Religion 200 Course Lectures.