Excessive Government Interference in the Affairs of the Apostolic Church of Esfahan
By Jeremy Reynalds Senior Correspondent for ASSIST News Service
ESFAHAN, IRAN (ANS) -- There is a relentless and daily increase of pressure and restrictions against the members and elders of Esfahan’s Apostolic churches.
Bishop Marshal and St. Paul church members
According to the Farsi Christian News Network (FCNN), it is now months since the forced establishment of agents as supervisors and enforcers in churches across the city. FCNN said they are openly interfering in the daily operation of the churches, to better enforce the will of the Islamic Regime.
FCNN said these agents interfere in every aspect of the churches’ daily life. The agents constantly interfere in conversations, actively frightening people away from the church. Church elders are threatened, and ordered not to converse with non-Christians. They are told to ignore people if addressed by a Muslim.
According to FCNN these agents, appointed by the Islamic Revolutionary Guards, are constantly trying to turn away visitors away with dire warnings of what could happen if they show up again or try to contact the church in anyway. Even older members’ children are frequently threatened, and often forbidden to attend the church services.
In the Apostolic Churches, FCNN reported, someone insisting he be addressed as “Mr. Mazaheri,” and claiming to be a retired teacher, has been placed as the church affairs supervisor.
FCNN said, “His job solely consists of spreading false rumour, trying to cause dissent and disputes among the believers, and generally to enforcing the whim of the religious authorities.”
According to reports received by FCNN, the Intelligence arm of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards has installed listening devices in a hospital adjacent to the church of St. Luke in Esfahan. The aim is reportedly to better control church members and visitors. The same scenario is also occurring in a school adjacent to the Church of St. Paul Esfahan.
FCNN said, “Islamic authorities have never shied away from exploiting civilians and structures for military use, or to spy on their own citizens. Indeed it is considered something of a scoop, and fondly referred to by high and low of the Islamic Regime.”
FCNN said Pastor “Sharifian” of St. Luke’s Church was ordered by the in-house Islamic agent to provide telephone and mobile numbers, addresses, and photocopies of ID cards of everyone who enters the church.
FCNN added, “Every single one has since been under surveillance at one time or another, called in for interrogations, and warned in no uncertain terms about his or her future should they to continue their association with the church or Christianity.”
FCNN concluded, “By covert spying or blatant intimidation, the Islamic Regime does its very best to cause a breakdown of religious atmosphere in the church and force a collapse from within, finally to bring about the long standing dream of the mullahs and force the closure of churches in Esfahan after centuries of active presence.”
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."