As part of our increased focus on international religious freedom, in the months to come, FRC will be taking a closer look at the state of global religious freedom and the abuses our Christian sisters and brothers across the world endure. As we pray for our own country, we will also focus on countries and regions where persecution against believers is widespread.
Together, we'll remember those who are suffering greatly for their Christian faith. We will pray for them and, when possible, act on their behalf.
We will start by focusing on Iran.
Iran is among the world's worst religious persecutors. Christians who evangelize or convert from a Muslim background are routinely harassed, intimidated, and arrested due to their faith.
One prominent case is that of 21-year old Mary Mohammadi. Like many converts, Mary has had several confrontations with Iran's authorities.
On January 12, 2020, Mary was arrested during her participation in widespread protests against the regime's downing of a Ukrainian passenger aircraft. For weeks, no one knew where she was. Finally, it was revealed that she was being held in the notorious Qarchak Women's Prison, where she was strip-searched, beaten, and endured abusive interrogations.
Following international media exposure, including Secretary of State Mike Pompeo's discussion of her case on Washington Watch with Tony Perkins, it was reported on February 28 that Mary was released on bail. For now, her court hearing has been rescheduled for April 24, 2020.
Unfortunately, considering her repeated harassment by authorities, Mary Mohammadi remains extremely vulnerable.
Meanwhile, numerous other Iranian Christians face danger and uncertainty due to their courageous and outspoken faithfulness. Dabrina Bet Tamraz recently shared at FRC about her family's ongoing harassment by the Iranian legal system. Her father, Assyrian Pastor Victor Bet Tamraz, was sentenced in 2017 to ten years in prison for "acting against national security by forming home churches, attending seminars abroad, and proselytizing Zionist Christianity." Dabrina's mother, Shamiram Isavi, was sentenced to five years in prison on similar charges. Both have been released on bail while appealing their cases.
Victims of religious persecution in Iran have reported that imprisoned individuals whose cases get international media attention receive better treatment in prison because authorities know the world is watching. Advocacy has a real-world impact. Please encourage the Trump administration to continue to pressure the Iranian regime to stop imprisoning people simply because of the faith they hold.
Please pray along with us for Mary as she faces her hearing on April 24th, and for Iran's many thousands of courageous Christians. They face ongoing dangers and constant uncertainties about their future in a hostile land. May our Lord protect and empower them!
"Remember those who are in prison, as though in prison with them..." (Hebrews 13:3)
Remember the Persecuted
Religious liberty is the freedom to hold beliefs of one’s choice and to live according to those beliefs. While it was foundational to the formation of the United States of America, religious freedom is not merely an American right, but an inherent human right.
Yet the human race currently faces unprecedented religious persecution from governmental and social forces worldwide. In 2016, one or more religious groups were harassed in 187 countries around the world.
Over the last decade, Christians have been harassed in more countries, including the United States, than any other religious group. We do indeed face a worldwide crisis of religious liberty.
We must increase awareness of the expanding threat to religious freedom around the world and the persecution that many Christians are facing. As we grow awareness of this problem we must also increase engagement that will bring tangible hope and help to the persecuted.
For More Information
- Stories from Iran: Religious Freedom and the Secret Growth of the Underground Church - Speaker Series Event
Apostasy, Blasphemy, and Anti-Conversion Laws - Family Research Council Publication
Are Iran's Christian converts at greater risk after Soleimani's demise? - The Jerusalem Post
Religious Freedom in China: One Daughter's Testimony - Speaker Series Event
Religious Freedom in China: The History, Current Challenges, and the Proper Response to a Human Rights Crisis- Family Research Council Publication
Will Religious Freedom Survive in Northeast Syria? – Speaker Series Event
Testimony of Ji Hyeon-A – Values Voter Summit 2019
International Religious Liberty in Crisis: Victims and Consequences – Values Voter Summit 2018