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ICC Note: At a global gathering in Rome, a Texas Professor explained the harsh persecution faced by Muslim-born converts to Christianity.  Namely, he focused on the situation against such believers in Iran, discussing that, while Christians generally face tremendous persecution from Iranian officials, law enforcement, and other civilians; the penalties and trying circumstances are much worse for Muslim-born Iranians who convert to Christianity. ICC has reported and followed the, more than 92, cases of jailed Christians undergoing severe trauma in Iran.

2/2016 Iran (Baptist Standard) –Christians in Iran–particularly those who share their faith with Muslims—face persecution less overtly violent than in Iraq and Syria but no less real, a Baylor University religion professor told a recent global gathering in Rome.

“To live as a Christian in ideologically adventurous Muslim Iran is to face countless, daily micro-aggressions in a controlled environment that inculcates within Christians the constant perception of threat and vulnerability,” Chris van Gorder told the International Conference on Christian Response to Persecution.

Van Gorder, who has interacted with Iranian Christians 30 years and made one trip to Iran, wrote Christianity in Persia and the Status of Non-Muslims in Iran in 2010. More recently, he presented a paper at the conference in Rome on “Christian Responses to Persecution in the Islamic Republic of Iran and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.”

“I probably won’t be welcomed back” to Iran after writing and speaking about persecuted Iranian Christians, he noted in an interview.

The estimated number of Christians in Iran varies widely, from official reports of 240,000 to more than 370,000. Probably 10 percent of Iranian Christians suffer consistent, serious persecution, he noted.

In particular, evangelical and Pentecostal Christians who seek to convert Muslims to Christianity—or who preach or publish evangelistic literature in the Farsi language—are targeted, he noted.

“The real dividing line is this question: ‘Do you witness to Muslim neighbors and see Christianity as superior to Islam?’” van Gorder said.

But even the majority of Iranian Christians—Orthodox Armenians and Assyrian or Chaldean Christians—endure second-class status that takes a variety of forms, he said.

“Iranian Christians undergo constant scrutiny from the nation’s religious or morality police,” the Basij, van Gorder said.

Christians may face discrimination in the workplace, in housing or in terms of admission to a university, he said.

“Another group of Christians that has reported instances of persecution are individuals who were raised Christians but have names that identify them with a previous Muslim heritage,” van Gorder said. “Sometimes, such people are treated as apostates.”

Muslim-background Christians have been denied marriage licenses, lost their jobs and even faced the death penalty, he said.

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