Tehran church forced to close by Revolutionary Guards

Tehran church forced to close by Revolutionary Guards

A church in western Tehran has been forced to close by order of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps.

The pastor of the church, Robert Gogtapeh, was informed of the decision on 29 May.

Then, last Tuesday, Revolutionary Guard intelligence agents ordered the Council of the Assemblies of God Churches in Iran to vacate the building so that its entrances could be sealed.

The church, which belongs to the Assemblies of God denomination and is located in the Jannat Abad area of Tehran, has been running for 15 years and has over 100 members.

All its services and other weekly meetings are conducted in Persian, Iran’s national language.

The Central Assemblies of God Church in Tehran has also faced pressure from security agents of the Islamic Republic in recent months, as the regime has intensified its crackdown on the promotion of Christianity in Iran, with government figures repeatedly warning against “evangelical Christians”. 

Article18’s Mansour Borji told Radio Farda the closure of the church was being seen by some pastors in Iran and abroad as a “new step in the regime’s policy of eradicating Persian-speaking churches”.

He added that “human rights organisations and many other institutions and churches around the world have been informed about the closure, and we have also submitted detailed reports on the current situation of Christians to Ahmed Shaheed, UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights in Iran”.

Meanwhile, the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran has issued a statement, calling on the Iranian authorities to allow the church to “reopen immediately” and to “stop persecuting Persian-language churches”.

The campaign group noted that several other Persian-language churches have been closed in the past six months, and many church members arrested.

It also noted that “Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Intelligence Organisation has recently and abruptly taken over the oversight of Christian churches in Iran, which were previously overseen by agents of the Ministry of Intelligence and the Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance”.