Iran (MNN) — Iran’s parliament is doubling down on the persecution of religious minorities, further criminalizing religious practice and belief in a draft bill. It went to Muslim leaders in the country for review, and now they have sent it back to parliament. As of yet, the bill has not been formally approved.
Todd Nettleton of The Voice of the Martyrs USA says the bill was first proposed in 2018, and authorities have been tweaking it ever since. “What it would do, really, is prevent religious expression, particularly as it relates to saying something that would be perceived as negative about Islam. And obviously, what the government would say is, if you’re encouraging a Muslim to leave Islam and follow Jesus Christ, well, that’s negative about Islam. It would fall under this bill and could end up with you in prison.”
The bill purposefully uses vague wording, allowing for a broad interpretation and application against members of religious minorities. The bill meets none of the standards set for such legislation under international human rights laws.
Nothing new for Iranian Christians
Iranian Christians know persecution. They already risk arrest and torture for sharing the Gospel and building churches. Nettleton says, “The Islamic Revolution didn’t affect the growth of the Church. The continued arrest of Christians hasn’t affected the growth of the church. So I don’t think this bill is likely to change the trajectory of church growth in Iran. I think, though, it does show clearly that the government wants to impact the growth of the church.”
“They are afraid, frankly, and very frustrated that nothing they do is stopping the church in Iran from growing.”
Nettleton says as the government of Iran grows more and more desperate to stop church growth, he predicts more bills like this will come in the future.
In the meantime, he asks readers to pray that God will strengthen Christian brothers and sisters in Iran and that despite this persecution the Kingdom will continue to grow. Pray also that the people of Iran will see more religious freedom in the future.
Header photo courtesy of Middle East Concern.