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June 20, 2009
Lorna Dueck

I take it for granted I have the right to freedom of religion. When interviewing in Thailand this past winter at a world church gathering, I could not use any recording devices as I heard the stories of fellow Christians in Sri Lanka, and Burma. Christians had been killed in those countries in the weeks prior to our gathering. Countries dominated by Islam also had tragic accounts of murders and fear filled encounters about what I so take for granted – that believing and expressing what ever I want about God is my right.

Here is a press release from writers who live without that:


As hundreds of thousands continue to pour out onto the streets of Tehran and all Iran’s major cities demanding fair elections, Iranian Christians are crying out to God for freedom and are asking the global church to stand with them in prayer.

Church services have been infiltrated, pastors are regularly called for questioning, phones are tapped, outreach is illegal, and Christians cannot even publish the Bible or Christian literature in Iran’s national language, Persian. Those who have evangelized and campaigned for religious freedom have paid a heavy price. Eight prominent Christians have been killed since 1979, in 2008 over 50 ordinary Christians were arrested, some being held for weeks in solitary confinement.

In 2009 this has continued. On March 5th Marzieh Amirizadeh (30) and Maryam Rustampoor (27), two active Christians, were taken from their home in Tehran to Evin prison where they are still being held. These two young women have both spent time in a two by two meter cell in solitary confinement, which one of them described as being ‘like a grave’.

For Maryam and Marzieh and the thousands of other Christians who were formerly Muslim, the outcome of the present political turmoil could crucially impact the level of suffering they have to face. If the position of hard-liners is strengthened there is a real danger they could unleash more persecution against the church. There is a law making its way through the legislative bodies making the death sentence for male apostates mandatory, and life imprisonment for women. If the moderates are strengthened, then, as happened under Khatami, there is a hope that the intimidation and arrests will come to an end as the regime signals it is willing to tolerate more diversity.

If the moderates gain the upper hand there will be more freedom for Christians. If the hard-liners are strengthened and there is more suffering, as the last thirty years has shown, this will only increase Christians’ determination to witness to Jesus.

“Iranian Christians are pleading for believers around the world to pray that God will touch the nation of Iran at this time,” says Sam Yeghnazar, Founder and Director of Elam Ministries.

Thanks to our friends for this press release. Sign up for news and learn how to protest for freedom of religion at one of the sources below:


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