Recent reports show that four Christian men have been sentenced to 80 lashes each for drinking wine during communion.
Iran is apparently cracking down on what they call “house-churches.” Christians in the country are trying to practice their religion without being discovered by the Iranian government, so they are forced to worship in their homes to go undetected. The four men, identified as Behzad Taalipasand, Mehdi Reza Omidi, Mehdi Dadkakh and Amir Hatemi, were all arrested in the middle of a Christmas service last year, and were just now charged with consuming alcohol and possessing a receiver and satellite antenna.
Christian Solidarity Worldwide Chief Executive Mervyn Thomas released a statement on behalf of the group condemning the sentencing.
“The sentences handed down to these members of the Church of Iran effectively criminalise the Christian sacrament of sharing in the Lord’s Supper and constitute an unacceptable infringement on the right to practice faith freely and peaceably,” said Thomas. “We urge the Iranian authorities to ensure that the nation’s legal practices and procedures do not contradict its international obligation under the International Convent on Civil and Political Rights to guarantee the full enjoyment of freedom of religion or belief by all of its religious communities.”
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Persecution against Christians in the Muslim country has been going on for many years, and recent studies have shown that more than 300 Christians have been arrested in Iran since 2010. The Iranian government has refuted these findings, saying that researchers are biased towards the Western culture.
The men arrested and recently sentenced have 10 days to schedule appeals, and then they will receive 80 lashes at the hands of the government.