Another Iranian Church Forced to Close its Doors on Farsi Speaking Christians

By ASSIST News
That’s according to a story by Mohabat News Service, relying on a source saying that the church has been added to an expanding list of churches where Farsi speaking Christians are not allowed anymore.

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According to Mohabat News, St. Peter Church Pastor Sargis Benyamin announced on Sun. Dec. 8 that Farsi speaking attendees, the majority, are not allowed in the church anymore.

Some Farsi-speaking members had been attending the church regularly for more than 20 years.

A week after the announcement, the church’s custodian prevented a few of the Farsi speaking members from entering the church. They included Sunday school teachers, ministers and elders of the church. They were told they cannot enter the church building even for purposes other than attending the service.

Also, according to unconfirmed reports, Mohabat News said Benyamin announced that the entire service will be held in a language other than Farsi, Iran’s official language.

Iranian churches are under pressure from the government, more specifically Revolutionary Guard Intelligence, to stop their services in Farsi.

Earlier Ministry of Intelligence officials asked members of St. Peter Church to submit their ID cards and personal information to the ministry. Mohabat News commented, “This was done to intimidate church members and keep them from attending church services.”

Mohabat News said only a few Armenian and Assyrian families attend St. Peter Church and Farsi speaking Christians form the majority of the congregation. Therefore, with all Farsi speaking members banned, the church’s closure would be quite possible.

Some analysts believe that Assyrian Member of Parliament Yonatan Betkolia is behind this prohibition order.

Mohabat News said, “Past experiences have clearly shown his close cooperation with the Ministry of Intelligence. Through this cooperation he has been able to convince a number of Assyrian and Armenian pastors to close the doors of their churches on Farsi speaking Christians.”

Since 2011, pressure and restrictions on Iranian churches have increased dramatically.

Many Christians, especially newly converted Christians, have faced imprisonment and harassment. Iranian intelligence and security forces have recently focused their efforts on closing down more churches around the country.

Among the already closed churches are the Assemblies of God Church in Ahwaz, the Farsi speaking church of Janat-Abad and Central Assemblies of God Church in Tehran.

The Central AG Church was the largest Farsi speaking Church in Tehran.

Mohabat News said even a Latin Catholic Church in Tehran was forced to ban Farsi speakers from attending, although only small parts of their services were held in Farsi. Government authorities threatened church officials and warned them against allowing Farsi speaking Christians in their services.

There are also a few other churches across the country that have been ordered not to allow Farsi speakers from attending. They are also banned from registering new members.

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