By Compass Direct News
Revolutionary Guard closes doors amid crackdown on recognized churches
Authorities in Iran this week ordered the closure of a church in the capital, Tehran, amid a government campaign to crack down on the few recognized churches offering Farsi-speaking services, according to a human rights group.
The order came from Iran’s Revolutionary Guard’s Intelligence branch on Tuesday (June 5). The Revolutionary Guard, also known as Sepah, is known for its military aggression.
“Unfortunately, it is now official – the church in Janat-Abad [district] was ordered to shut down,” said Monsour Borji, an Iranian Christian and advocacy officer for rights initiative Article 18. “If no reverse decision is made, this Sunday [June 10] no meeting will be held.”
Article 18 is a London-based initiative of the United Council of Iranian Churches (Hamgaam), which seeks to defend and promote religious freedoms in Iran. Hamgaam is composed of Iranian Christian churches in Europe.
The church in Tehran’s northwestern district of Janat-Abad belongs to the Assemblies of God (AOG) Church in Iran. Originally it was located in Karaj, about 20 kilometers (12 miles) west of Tehran, but authorities ordered it to shut down some years ago, Borji told Compass.
Church leaders had negotiated with authorities to use property they acquired in Janat-Abad in order to serve their Assyrian background Christian members who lived in west Tehran. Over time, however, the number of Iranians from Farsi-speaking Muslim families attending the church increased, drawing the attention of authorities.