Persian speakers banned from Tehran church

Persian speakers banned from Tehran church

St. Peter’s Evangelical Church in Tehran has been forced to ban Persian-speaking Christians from its services.

Pastor Sergis Benjamin, speaking ahead of Christmas, urged Persian speakers to no longer visit the church. 

But with only a few Assyrian and Armenian families attending the church, the reality is that the future of the church is now in jeopardy. The majority of members are Persian-speakers, and some have been attending services for over 20 years. 

Guards have been posted at the door of the church to ensure Persian speakers don’t enter.

Churches in Iran have long been under pressure from security agencies, especially Iranian Revolutionary Guard intelligence agents, to stop them from holding meetings in Persian.

Since 2009, pressure and restrictions on official churches have increased. In December 2009, the Central Assemblies of God Church in Tehran was required to cancel its Persian meetings on Fridays after receiving a notification from the Ministry of Intelligence.

Then in February 2012, St. Peter’s Church and another Persian-speaking church, Emmanuel Church, were banned from holding meetings in Persian on Fridays after receiving a similar notification.

Iranian officials, meanwhile, have told churches in Tehran that they can hold their meetings on Sundays instead of Fridays – when most Iranians show up for work and are unable to attend. The members of these churches have also been forced to provide their personal details to the Ministry of Intelligence, in an attempt to further deter members and interested parties from attending.

Quoting the contents of this article in part is permitted. However, no part of it may be used for any fundraising appeal, or for any publication where donations are requested.