Hundreds of thousands of Christians are worshiping secretly in a rapidly accelerating house church movement in Iran, as a London-based theological center is aiding the movement by training the next generation of its spiritual leaders.
The Iranian government labels Christianity as a threat to the nation's Islamic identity and imprisons over 100 Christians for worshiping Christ. Such crackdowns on faith, however, have not prevented Iranian house churches from blossoming into a movement too big for the Iranian religious police to contain.
Some estimates, such as one provided by Open Doors USA, record as many as 450,000 practicing Christians in Iran, while other, more optimistic estimates, record over 1 million Christians in the Islamic republic. more >>
Everyone loves to deal with moderates, especially when they represent a rare shift toward moderation for a rogue state. The trouble is that the concept of a moderate is relative. In dealing with the former Soviet Union we heard the term "Politburo moderates" over and over. Reaching out to this fabricated species was an excuse for being nice to despicable governments.
In the case of the Islamic Republic of Iran, reaching out to "moderates" among the ayatollahs' inner circles has been a constant dream of American officials for the past 30 years. These moderates are supposed to be the cure to the Iranian enigma, which has been a unique problem for every US administration for the past three decades.
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani met with Pope Francis at the Vatican Tuesday, and asked the pontiff for prayers as the Middle Eastern country attempts to improve its relationship with the international community.
Rouhani had a private meeting with the pope during his four-day trip in Europe, which analysts say is meant to restore ties to western powers after economic sanctions against the Islamic Republic were lifted.
During his visit, Rouhani reportedly asked the pope to pray for him, adding that visiting the Catholic holy site was a "real pleasure." more >>
The Obama administration is denying claims made by an Iranian militia leader that the recent wiring of $1.7 billion to the Islamic republic was ransom money paid in exchange for the freedom of five American hostages.
U.S. State Department spokesman Mark Toner told reporters this week that despite comments made by Gen. Mohammad Reza-Naghdi of Iran's Basij militia, the $1.7 billion wired to Iran was not an exchange for the recently-released prisoners.
"There was no bribe, there was no ransom, there was nothing paid to secure the return of these Americans who were, by the way, not spies. We've spoken to this in the days after their release on Sunday morning in great detail about how this process worked," Toner told reporters, according to Breitbart. more >>
The American Center for Law and Justice, the law group that raised awareness and started petitions signed by millions calling for the freedom of Pastor Saeed Abedini, says it's grateful that he's finally been released, and urged the focus to move on to the many other persecuted Christians around the world.
"From our involvement in Pastor Saeed's case more than three years ago, our goal was two-fold: keep Pastor Saeed alive in one of the world's most dangerous prisons — and work to secure his release. To accomplish that, we implemented a three-point strategy," ACLJ Chief Counsel Jay Sekulow said in a statement to The Christian Post on Monday.
Land belonging to an Iranian Assyrian church that was illegally confiscated by authorities two years ago will soon be the venue for a center for Islamic prayers, according to Iran's state-controlled media.
The Chaldean Catholic Church in Western Tehran, the original owner of the land, has made numerous pleas to authorities to get the grounds back, but in vain, the state-run newspaper Sharq quoted Jonathan Bet-Kelia, a member of the regime's Majlis, or parliament, as saying, according to Assyrian International New Agency.
Bet-Kelia met with Ali Younesi, special assistant to Iranian President Hassan Rouhani on ethnic minorities affairs, with the same request but was told that nothing could be done about it. Younesi is a former Minister of Intelligence and Security, and is known for ordering arrests and assassinations of numerous dissidents. more >>