Iran (MNN) — More groups are speaking out about Iran's proposed apostasy bill. Under the bill, those guilty of converting away from Islam would face the death penalty. It's drawn the condemnation of many human and religious rights organizations. While the law has yet to be ratified, many religious minority communities are concerned because they could be subjected to death sentences.
Reports indicate that Muslim-background Christians have been interrogated and then released. Vice President for Broadcasting for Words of Hope Lee DeYoung confirms that. "There has been increased attention by the government against those involved in Christian activities. Things seem to be becoming more difficult."
DeYoung says there may be two reasons for the crackdown. He says it could be run-away Christian church growth, or new political movement.
Many reports indicate the current government isn't very popular. DeYoung says, "There's a greater dissatisfaction among the Iranian people. And as is very common when officials feel things are getting worse for them, their response is often to try to tighten and to resist even more strongly any kind of thing they perceive to be a threat."
Words of Hope broadcasts Persian Christian programming into Iran. DeYoung says, "The Gospel is growing. There is increased hunger among Iranian people for spiritual things."
Perhaps the radical nature of Iran's Muslim government may be driving people away. "Because the government itself is increasingly unpopular and is very closely associating itself with Islam, that has not been beneficial for the reputation of Islam among Iran's people, who of course are nominally Muslim for the most part."
While there hasn't been civil disobedience yet, there has been disillusionment. That's why Iranians are listening to Christian radio. "There is every indication that many are listening, that there is great hunger, but the people face great opposition as well."
If this law is ratified, it will mean difficulties for Muslim-background Christians. DeYoung says, "As things become more intense and difficult for believers, they covet the prayers of brothers and sisters in Christ outside that they might be able to withstand what awaits them."