(JNS.org) Iranian authorities have closed the
country’s largest Persian-language Pentecostal church, Central Assemblies of God Church (AoG), and have arrested its leader, Pastor
Robert Asserian, as part of a larger crackdown on Christian worship in the
country ahead of elections.
going to the church, authorities raided Pastor Asserian’s home where they
confiscated a computer and several books. Then, they found Pastor Asserian at the
church leading the prayer service, immediately arrested him, and announced the
church’s imminent closure,” said George O. Wood, general superintendent of the
AoG in the United States, the BosNewsLife
Middle East Christian wire service reported.
experts who are following the events in Iran believe this is an attempt to shut
down Persian-language Christian churches ahead of the June 14 elections.
incidents appear to be an attempt to stop worship services from being conducted
in Farsi, the language of the majority of Iranians,” Wood said.
in Iran, many of whom are converts, have faced severe persecution from Iranian
authorities who are fearful of their growing numbers.
Christian pastors have been arrested in recent years, including
Iranian-American Pastor Saeed Abedini, who was recently sentenced to eight
years in prison, Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani, who served three years in prison and
was recently released, and Pastor Behnam Irani, who is serving five years in
prison for “Christian activities,” according to the advocacy group Present
groups estimate that there around 100,000 Christians in Iran.