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Friday, July 13, 2012

Forced Closure of Church Property near Tehran
Continued repression of Christian churches in the Islamic Republic

By Jeremy Reynalds
Senior Correspondent for ASSIST News Service

TEHRAN (ANS) -- Reports from Tehran confirm the simultaneous May 2012 closure of both the Central Assembly of God Church in Tehran (Congregational) Church in Jennat-Abad, Tehran, and its summer campsite “Garden of Sharon.”

According to the Farsi Christian News Network (FCNN), officers of the Revolutionary Guards Corp have locked the gates and posted warning notices forbidding entrance. They warn of serious consequences for ignoring the order.

FCNN said until eight years ago, when it was raided by State Security agents of the Islamic Republic, the Garden of Sharon had been a popular and well attended site. It had hosted summer camps, Bible schools, Christian gatherings and conferences.

However, that has all changed, FCNN reported. Since then such gatherings have been very tightly overseen, with no more than 40 people allowed to attend in a given week.

But since the handover of security responsibilities to the Revolutionary Guards Corp in recent months, this oversight has become even stricter, FCNN reported.

According to FCNN, the Revolutionary Guards Corps is only accountable to the Islamic Regime’s Supreme Leader, acting on his authority alone. There is no one above this group to whom churches can appeal.

FCNN said there is a daily deluge of depressing news about increasingly restrictive measures against Christians and church activities.

Those measures include the forced closure of Friday Persian language services, cancellation of Bible teaching classes and the prohibition of the sale and distribution of The Bible and all other Christian literature.

FCNN said during Christmas 2011, the Ahvaz church of Assembly of God Church was attacked and the pastor, his wife and two worshipers imprisoned for weeks. They were only released after a large ransom was paid by the desperate families. The pressures were so much that the pastor left the city and eventually the country.

FCNN said after the Iranian New Year celebrations of Now-Rouz in March 2012, the Islamic Regime’s State Security organizations demanded the immediate closure of all Persian language Christian services across the country.

They also ordered the full disclosure of National ID numbers of visitors and/or worshipers, causing some to stop attending Church services and increasing the already fever pitch fears of persecution amongst the Christian community.

FCNN said children and young adult classes were forced to stop operating and Sunday school in Iran Assembly of God Churches was closed down.

FCNN commented, “Islamic security organizations are particularly ruthless in their handling of Bible classes.”

FCNN added, “With a multimillion dollar propaganda budget, the Islamic Republic would like to portray itself as a uniquely observant member of the international treaties on human rights and freedom of religion, committed to providing an atmosphere free from fear and persecution, constantly praising itself on its achievements. Yet (the Republic) blatantly, and with no apparent shame, is guilty of the most ruthless acts of anti-freedom practices against its own citizenry.”



Jeremy Reynalds is Senior Correspondent for the ASSIST News Service, a freelance writer and also the founder and CEO of Joy Junction, New Mexico's largest emergency homeless shelter, http://www.joyjunction.org He has a master's degree in communication from the University of New Mexico, and a Ph.D. in intercultural education from Biola University in Los Angeles. His newest book is "Homeless in the City."


Additional details on "Homeless in the City" are available at http://www.homelessinthecity.com. Reynalds lives in Albuquerque, New Mexico. For more information contact: Jeremy Reynalds at jeremyreynalds@comcast.net.

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