Iran feeling the tensions between faith and religious freedoms

By October 3, 2008

Iran (MNN) — The Iranian
Government is being asked to reconsider their highly controversial draft bill
on apostasy.

Al Janssen with
Open Doors says,
"The European Union has issued a declaration urging Iran to drop the
apostasy bill and also to release Christian converts from prison. So, I'm
hoping that other nations will get involved on that and that there will be a
lot of pressure put on Iran." 

According to the declaration, the
European Union reportedly "is very concerned at the deterioration in the exercise
of freedom of religion or belief, and especially the freedom of worship in
Iran where the pressure on people belonging to religious minorities has
worsened in recent months. "

It goes on to say, in part, that
"if adopted, that law would be a serious infringement of the freedom of
religion or belief, which includes the right to change religion and the right
to have no religion. It would violate Article 18 of the International Covenant
on Civil and Political Rights, which was freely ratified by Iran, and would
threaten the lives of a number of Iranians who have been arrested and held
without trial for several months on account of their religious beliefs."

Is the declaration
effective? Iran's response to the
protest of their nuclear threat is telling. But Janssen says it makes a statement to believers, as does a special
training course Open Doors is providing.

the official church is under strict control, personal growth is heavily
retarded. Open Doors believes the best
way for these Christians to meet for growth, worship and fellowship in safety
is to join in independent cell groups.

"We have been developing,
for some time, a discipleship course for Muslim-background believers. They have
not grown up in a Christian context; they really are starting from scratch when
it comes to discipleship. Those have
huge impact on their lives. How do they
practice their faith while still remain in an Islamic context?" 

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