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Explosive growth of Christian faith in Iran: number of believers to one million

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Missiologists have long spoken of the explosive growth of the church in Iran.Now they have data to back up their claims—from secular research.

According to a new survey of 50,000 Iranians—90 percent residing in Iran—by GAMAAN, a Netherlands-based research group, 1.5 percent identified as Christian.

Extrapolating over Iran’s population of approximately 50 million literate adults (the sample surveyed) yields at least 750,000 believers. According to GAMAAN, the number of Christians in Iran is “without doubt in the order of magnitude of several hundreds of thousands and growing beyond a million.”

The traditional Armenian and Assyrian Christians in Iran number 117,700, according to the latest government statistics.

Christian experts surveyed by CT expressed little surprise. But it may make a significant difference for the Iranian church.

“With the lack of proper data, most international advocacy groups expressed a degree of doubt on how widespread the conversion phenomenon is in Iran,” said Mansour Borji, research and advocacy director for Article 18, a UK-based organization dedicated to the protection and promotion of religious freedom in Iran.

“It is pleasing to see—for the first time—a secular organization adding its weight to these claims.”

The research, which asked 23 questions about an individuals’ “attitude toward religion” and demographics, was run by professors associated with the respected Dutch universities of Tilburg and Utrecht.

The general presumption of doubt risked influencing asylum applications by Iranians seeking resettlement in Europe or elsewhere.

“We do not regard it as remotely plausible that there are as many as 1 million people secretly practicing Christianity in Iran today,” wrote a UK judge in a March ruling establishing best practice guidelines, following a case that ultimately denied asylum to an Iranian convert.

“The huge numbers of converts claimed by various evangelical missions must be viewed in light of the fact that … the more converts they can claim, the greater the incentive for co-religionists to donate.”

Yet despite the widespread skepticism, research conducted by Christian advocacy organizations has begun to produce results.

In 2005, the United Nations created the Geneva-based Universal Periodic Review to evaluate the human rights status of every nation every 4.5 years. During its review session in February, for the first time recommendations for Iran included its treatment of “Christian converts,” issued by Norway and the Netherlands.

“We try to build relations with diplomats as much as they allow,” said Wissam al-Saliby, advocacy director for the World Evangelical Alliance.

“Without such reporting, news of Christian persecution will not filter into Geneva circles, and nations will not feel any pressure.

“It is important for Iran to hear the distinction between its traditional Christian communities, and its converts to the Christian faith.”

But according to the GAMAAN survey, there is another distinction Iran must make.

“The real news is not the number of Christians,” said Johannes de Jong, director of the Sallux (“Salt-Light” in Latin) think tank, affiliated with the European Christian Political Movement.

“It is the massive secularization of Iranian society as a whole.”

Only 32 percent of those surveyed identified themselves as Shiite Muslim. Officially, Iran puts their number at 95 percent.

“The Islam in Iran is a political system, not a faith embraced by any majority,” said de Jong, who has worked with Iranian asylum seekers and opposition politicians over the last 20 years.

“A free Iran would see an implosion of Islam, and a very significant rise of Christianity, Zoroastrism, and atheism.”

The survey already bears this out.

Atheists poll at 9 percent of the population (and nones, or no religious affiliation, overall at 22%); Zoroastrians at 7 percent. The 2011 census numbered Zoroastrians at only 25,000. Extrapolating the percentage from this survey, which GAMAAN stated is 95 percent accurate, that would now be 5.6 million. (Sources said this may indicate a non-Islamic Persian nationalism rather than a true system of belief.)

Nearly half (47%) said they used to be religious but are no longer.

Only 6 in 10 Iranians surveyed said they were born into a religious family. But 6 in 10 also do not say their daily prayers. And 7 in 10 do not want legislation based on religion (68%); state-funded religious institutions (71%); or mandatory head covering (73%). A majority (58%) do not believe in wearing the hijab at all.

And according to a 2019 survey by GAMAAN, 79 percent of the population would vote against an Islamic republic.

While this might seem a fertile field for Christian witness, David Yeghnazar of Elam Ministries warns against the “clay feet” of secularism. For example, almost 4 in 10 Iranians (37%) drink alcohol—which is forbidden in Islam.

“Iranians are attracted to Christianity because they think it is part and parcel of the free, secular, and democratic West,” he said. “It is important for Christian agencies to pry Christianity away from that mould.”

He was also cautious about endorsing the survey statistics as a true estimate of the body of Christ. In a secular survey, “Christian” can imply anything from a “vague attraction” to a “genuine love of Christ and a growing knowledge of the Scriptures.”

Yeghnazar believes the house churches’ lack of governing structure will harm the growing movement. False teaching, financial irregularity, and pastoral dictatorship may begin to plague them.
Sources:christianitytoday

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സമൂഹ മാധ്യമം വഴി അധിക്ഷേപിച്ചാൽ ഇനി പിടി വീഴും

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സമൂഹ മാധ്യമം വഴി അധിക്ഷേപിച്ചാൽ ഇനി പിടി വീഴും. പൊലീസ് ആക്ട് ഭേദഗതിക്ക് മന്ത്രിസഭ അംഗീകാരം നൽകി. സോഷ്യൽ മീഡിയയിലൂടെയുള്ള അതിക്ഷേപങ്ങൾക്കെതിരെ നടപടി എടുക്കാൻ പൊലീസ് ആക്ടിൽ വകുപ്പില്ലെന്ന് ആക്ഷേപം ഉയർന്നിരുന്നു. ഈ പശ്ചാത്തലത്തിലാണ് പുതിയ തീരുമാനം.

2011ലെ പൊലീസ് ആക്ട് ഭേദഗതി ചെയ്യാനാണ് തീരുമാനം. 118 A വകുപ്പ് കൂട്ടിച്ചേർക്കാനാണ് ഓർഡിനൻസ് കൊണ്ടുവരുന്നത്. സമൂഹ മാധ്യമങ്ങളിലൂടെയുള്ള ഭീഷണിപ്പെടുത്തൽ, അധിക്ഷേപിക്കൽ, ഇവ പ്രസിദ്ധീകരിക്കൽ പ്രചരിപ്പിക്കൽ എന്നിവ ഇനി കുറ്റകൃത്യമാകും. ഇത് സംബന്ധിച്ച് പൊലീസിന് കേസെടുക്കാൻ അധികാരം ലഭിക്കും. 2020 ഐടി ആക്ടിലെ 66 A
2011 പൊലീസ് ആക്ടിലെ 118 എന്നിവ സുപ്രിംകോടതി റദ്ദ് ചെയ്തിരുന്നു. ഇതോടെ സമൂഹ മാധ്യമങ്ങളിലൂടെയുള്ള കുറ്റകൃത്യം തടയാൻ നിയമം ദുർബലം എന്ന വിലയിരുത്തലിന്റെ അടിസ്ഥാനത്തിലാണ് സർക്കാർ തീരുമാനം.

നേരത്തെ മലയാള സിനിമാ ഡബിംഗ് ആർട്ടിസ്റ്റ് ഭാഗ്യലക്ഷ്മിക്കെതിരെ സമൂഹമാധ്യമങ്ങളിലൂടെ അശ്ലീല പ്രചാരണം വന്നത് വലിയ വിവാദങ്ങൾക്കാണ് വഴിവച്ചത്. സോഷ്യൽ മീഡിയയിലൂടെയുള്ള അതിക്ഷേപങ്ങളിൽ നടപടിയെടുക്കാൻ പൊലീസ് ആക്ടിൽ വകുപ്പില്ലെന്ന അധികാരികളുടെ നിലപാട് വലിയ വിമർശനത്തിന് വഴിവച്ചിരുന്നു. പരാതിക്ക് നടപടിയില്ലെന്ന് കാണിച്ച് സൈബർ ആക്രമണത്തിന് ഇരയായവരും രംഗത്തെത്തിയിരുന്നു. ഈ പശ്ചാത്തലത്തിലാണ് പുതിയ ഭേദഗതി.

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Lifelight Ministries invitation to Divine Family Webinar Series

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Lifelight Ministries aims to minister among youth with a clear objective of transforming young lives for the glory of God. It has been our constant endeavour to share the joy of walking in the love of Jesus Christ. On behalf of Lifelight Ministries, it gives me immense pleasure to bring to you ‘Divine Family Webinar Series’.

You are invited to join the 8-part online Family Enrichment programme held every Saturday from 08:00 pm to 9:30 pm, October 31, 2020 – December 19th, 2020 via Zoom. The sessions will be led by Dr. Chacko Mathai, Family Counsellor and Psychologist who has a rich experience of more than 18 years of counselling 2500+ families in various corporate/ formal and informal set-ups, along with his wife Mrs. Molly Chacko who will be enlightening us on the following components:

 Foundation of Marriage
 Expression of Love
 Resolving Conflicts
 Effective Communication
 Forgiveness in Marriage
 Healthy Sexual Relationship
 Question and Answer Session

Post the positive feedback and life-changing testimonies of various couples received after the successful completion of the Family Enrichment 8-part web series in Malayalam, we are greatly inspired to extend the reach and replicate the same in English and Hindi as well.

This opportunity will prove equally beneficial for both married couples and even those preparing for the same. The sessions, purely intended at impacting many more lives, will be conducted completely free of cost.

Looking forward to your valuable presence and participation. Please do feel free to share this information to anyone who might be interested.
Zoom Id – 774485940490

Rev. Finny George (President) +91 7986320233

Pr. Biju Thankachen (Vice-President) +91 7558080069

Bro. Lijo Reji (General Coordinator) +91 9311252922

Gali No 1, Guru Nanak Nagary, Muktsar, Muktsar, Punjab, India – 152026
Contact: +91 7986320233, 91 7558080069, +91 9886652142
Email:[email protected],
www.Lifelight.in

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