According to a report by Article 18, an organization dedicated to monitoring religious freedoms in Iran, between June 30 and July 1, 2020, the country’s Revolutionary Guard arrested over 12 Christians in three cities — Malayer, Karaj and Tehran.
In addition to this, officials also secured the identities of dozens of other Christians.
Article 18 reported that about 10 agents with the Revolutionary Guard stormed a house church of about 30 people in Tehran. They arrested six people who were blindfolded, handcuffed and taken away. The families have no idea where they are.
Five of the people arrested were Muslims who had converted to Christianity which is illegal in the Islamic Republic of Iran.
The remainder had their cell phones seized and were forced to sign forms that the Revolutionary Guard had “not” taken their phones. The Revolutionary Guard then went to the homes of people attending the house church meeting, including the six arrested, to search for Bibles and Christian literature.
Others who were not at the house church meeting were also arrested as part of this extended search of homes.
Article 18 said it is believed the house church had been infiltrated by a wolf in sheep’s clothing writing:
“It is believed that the raids were coordinated with the help of an informant, who had infiltrated the group within the past few months and gained their trust.”
At this same time, in apparently coordinated attacks, Christian Iranians were arrested in the other two cities.
It is difficult to determine how many Christians there are in Iran that has a population of around 80 million. In 2006, the government reported 109,000 Christians. However, that number is suspect because it does not include the numbers of Muslims who have converted to Christianity because such conversions are illegal.
Groups working with Iranian Christians say the number of conversions is exploding estimating there are between 300,000 to 400,000 believers in the country ranked as the 9th worst persecutor of Christians. Open Doors puts the number at closer to 450,000 believers, while others suggest it could even be higher.
Whatever the case, this reflects a dramatic growth because in 1979, it was estimated Iran had only 500 believers.
Though we can’t get an accurate picture of how many Christians there are in Iran, we know Christianity is growing based on the statements made by the country’s Islamic leaders.
In 2019, Iranwire, reported that Iran’s Intelligence minister, Mahmoud Alavi, told a group of Muslim leaders, “Christianity is spreading in parts of Iran.” He added that this is happening because Iranians are tiring of the violence they are seeing among some Islamic groups.
In 2017, Mohabat News reported that Islamic cleric Ayatollah Boroujerdi warned about “accurate reports indicate that the youths are becoming Christians in Qom and attending house churches.” Apparently, this even included the son of an Islamic cleric.