Will Christianity supplant Islam in Iran?

During the annual meeting of our “gang of priests” we have heard informative talks about Islam.  A propos the topic, this was forwarded by a priest friend and participant in our meeting.  From God Reports with my emphases and comments:

Islam is mocked on the streets of Iran’s capital and many are turning to Christ, ex-CIA spy says
By Mark Ellis

As a member of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard he witnessed appalling human rights abuses that caused him to question his faith in Islam and the current regime. He became a CIA spy and later escaped to the West. His contacts on the ground in Tehran tell him Islam’s days are numbered there. [Wishful thinking or accurate analysis?]

“Many have lost faith in Islam,” says Reza Khalili, a pseudonym taken by the ex-spy for safety reasons. “In the streets of Tehran, people are cursing at Mohammad,” he reports. “Millions [?  The population of Iran seems to be about 74 million, of whom 2% are non-Muslim.] wake up to text messages they send each other every day mocking the regime and the religion.” [I wonder: Can any of you readers back that up?]

Despite the stereotypes of Iran’s fundamentalist identity, Khalili says that many are surprisingly sympathetic to the West. “The majority of Iranians are westernized,” he maintains. “They are one of the most westernized countries in the region.”

Khalili says that before the 1979 revolution, those who adhered to Islam did so mostly for cultural reasons. Many were like his grandmother, who was a very loving person. “The older generation respected it because of what they learned from their parents,” he notes. “The younger generation respected it even though they didn’t adhere to it.”

Due to an enormous level of disillusionment with the course of their nation, a surprising number have turned their back on Islam. “Many in Iran are turning to Christianity underground,” Khalili reports.

Khalili himself became a Christian in the U.S. after watching the JESUS Film and exploring the Scripture with a friend.

His heart goes out to his brothers and sisters in Iran, who are paying a huge price if their Christian faith is discovered by the regime. He cites a report by a former intelligence officer in the Revolutionary Guard, who recently defected to Europe. “There is much torture and suffering the intelligence agencies are bringing upon the converts,” he notes.  [Sanguis martyrum semen Christianorum.]

Some of the techniques used against Christians reflect tortures of bygone centuries. “Some they keep them in underground holes in total darkness and only feed them every other day,” he reports. “They torture the prisoner’s families in front of them so they can get the names of others in Bible studies.”

The former intelligence officer reported that in the city of Shiraz [pop. approx. 1.2 million] alone there are 30,000 files at the intelligence headquarters on Christian converts.

Further, the Revolutionary Guard’s intelligence has assigned units in major cities to infiltrate Christian groups, identify pastors and underground church members and make arrests.

Then they are forced under torture to agree to appear on TV confessing to criminal activities and having connection with Israel or America.

“The Ayatollah Khamenei ordered the burning of thousands of Bibles,” Khaili says. “He said the Bible is not a holy book, so it’s okay to burn them. Tens of thousands of Bibles have been burned and nobody talks about it.”

While thousands of people have lost their lives at the hands of the regime, Khalili sees a new day coming. “The only good news is that when the change comes, Islam will be gone from Persia like it had never entered the country,” he predicts. “This is the promise from our Lord, that once again He will establish Himself in Persia.”

Kahlili teaches at the U.S. Department of Defense’s Joint Counterintelligence Training Academy (JCITA), is a senior fellow with EMPact America and a member of the Task Force on National and Homeland Security. He is the author of “A Time to Betray,” a book about his double life as a CIA agent in Iran’s Revolutionary Guard. “A Time to Betray” was the winner of the 2010 National Best Book Award, and the 2011 International Best Book Award. The book is set to become a movie.

In time, Christ will take all things to Himself and submit them to the Father, so that God might be all in all.  That is a fundamental dimension of our Christian eschatology.  However, it is a fundamental part of the eschatology of a certain strain of Shia Islam, the one prevalent in Iran, that the hidden “twelfth imam”, or madhi, will return just before the end of the world and will bring the whole world under Islam.  Some think that the quest for nuclear weapons by the present regime in Iran forms part of a strategy to hasten the return of the “twelfth imam” by provoking a conflagration.

Talk about an arms race.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. Tina in Ashburn says:

    A sobering description.

    Hard to imagine Iran will turn from Islam but we can hope. I’d wonder the same about Iraq as well then.
    A person I know was told by a Iranian bishop that he feared war against Saddam and his death because the Catholic Church was at peace under Saddam. I suspect this opinion may have contributed to the Church’s disapproval of the Iraq war. It is much worse, less stable, much less safe for Catholics today there.

    In this environment where the difference between the Catholic influence and the Islam hardliners is contrasted, one can hope for conversion to Christianity.

  2. Supertradmum says:

    There have been since the spring of this year, several sites which have noted that Christianity may be growing in Iran, including WND, Shariah Unveiled and others. However, the reports coming out of JihadWatch indicate continuing severe persecution and the exodus of Christians. He has reported with the help of Asian News , BosLifeNews and others that Christians ministers have been beaten and that churches live in fear. I do not mean to doubt your source, but that is contrary to what I have been seeing. In May, some converts to Christianity were jailed and another minister sentenced to death.

  3. iPadre says:

    Isn’t it interesting how Europe is becoming Islamic, while Iran becoming Christian. If there were a real witness to the Catholic Faith by those who were Baptized, maybe all of the far East would become Christian.

  4. chcrix says:

    I would be quite cautious about granting credence to these stories.

    The U.S. and Europe have bolstered support for the clerical government in Iran by their policies. And, if you have failed to notice it, there is a big push on by the usual suspects to drive the U.S. into another war, this time with Iran.

    Now an ex-CIA operative says Christianity is thriving there. Riiight.

    Remember the non-existent WMD’s? Remember how the Iraqis were going to greet the U.S. liberators with flowers? Remember “Mission Accomplished”?

    Fool us once, shame on you. Fool us twice, shame on us.

  5. Clinton R. says:

    “Some think that the quest for nuclear weapons by the present regime in Iran forms part of a strategy to hasten the return of the “twelfth imam” by provoking a conflagration.”

    A cache of nuclear weapons will be no match for those armed with Our Lady’s Rosary. May Our Blessed Mother pray for the Catholic conversion of all men. +JMJ+

  6. Sissy says:

    At a recent mission conference, I met two Iranian Christians who had escaped but have family members left behind. From the stories they told, I don’t believe the Iranian government is treating Christians with tolerance.

  7. aragonjohn7 says:

    Hmm it may be happening faster than I thought

  8. aragonjohn7 says:

    Hmm… it may be happening faster than I thought.

  9. aragonjohn7 says:

    it may be happening faster than I thought.

  10. aragonjohn7 says:

    it may be happening faster than I thought

  11. aragonjohn7 says:

    Oops ^????

  12. aquinas138 says:

    M?r Afraha? ?akkîmâ f?rs?yâ etkašaf ?l?fayn!

    St. Aphrahat the Persian Sage, pray for us!

  13. aquinas138 says:

    I apologize that those characters didn’t display properly:

    Mar Afrahat hakkima farsaya etkashaf hlafayn!

  14. Pingback: THURSDAY MORNING EDITION | Big Pulpit

  15. Inigo says:

    One if my friends went to Iran for a month a couple of years ago, and he said, that he didn’t meet one iranian who was a sincere religious muslim, apart from an old sufi like figure he met in the desert. Almost every person he met was against the goverment and Islam. Nevertheless he didn’t see or hear anything that would indicate a turning to christianity, which is not suprising. He’s experience was, that the global picture about Iran being a super religious muslim super state, is mainly goverment propaganda, backed up by a totalitarian opressive policy. Sadly the iranian goverment thinks it can utilize every means neccesary to enforce this policy on the populace.

  16. St. Rafael says:

    Remember that Iran is Persia. The Persian people have always admired the West and they want to be like us. They also take pride in their history, such as Cyrus the Great, who is still admired, as is their history in art, music, architecture, and food.

    Islam was a foreign religion and culture imposed on them by Arabs. The day the Persian people realize this, will the day they start to take back their country and culture. I have always had great hope that the Persians will be the people that are capable of getting rid of Islam, once they decide to reclaim their identity.

  17. Aquila says:

    I’ve read in a number of places that Iran is either the least, or second-least, observant Muslim country in the world, with something like 2% of its population attending mosque on Friday. One source was the BBC, which is not a source that is alarmist about Islam. I realise that the place of mosque-going may not have the same place in muslim piety that mass-going has in Catholicism, but as a relative measure between Muslim communities, it’s probably relevant.

    I’ve also read that something like 2% of Iranians are Christian, 3/4 of whom are Protestants of a Muslim family background. It’s probable that converts who have risked all to follow their faith are rather more observant than the bulk of cultural Muslims in Iran, so it’s quite possible that the number of observant Christians and observant Muslims will converge at some point. I very much doubt that Islam will be displaced as the majority faith in Iran.

    Last year, the Iranian government announced that a successful police operation had broken up 300 house churches in a regional city – that’s several thousand people, at least. It’s significant that the government announced it: “You know that there is a problem with Christians, and we’re fixing it.” It’s possible that the government lied about it, of course, but the message remains the same. Of course, the house churches are overwhelmingly attended by Protestant converts, not those Iranians born into historically Christian families.

    About three years ago, President Ahmadinijad addressed a university, and exhorted them not to become Christians. This is not the act of someone who sees conversion to Christianity as a minor problem; it’s a potentially embarrassing admission of cultural failure.

    The situation in Iran is very interesting. If it becomes a source-country for missionaries, the broader Middle-East could be dramatically impacted.

  18. Fr. Z. thank you for this. Fr. Zakarias Botros has long claimed many converts among the Muslims of the Middle East. I am sceptical though when an ex-CIA source makes the claim. As they say ‘once CIA always CIA’ – one never really leaves such an organisation. That said I think there may be simply a secularisation process going on in Iran similar to that in the West. In that process some are going further and finding Christ. Since many of the reports concerning those who are tortured refer to ‘pastors’ and ‘ministers’ I wonder how many are Catholic? What if Iran were to become Christian but Protestant? What impact is this having on the Chaldean rite Catholics there? Are they the ones who are fleeing? We pray regularly now in my community for the persecuted Christians of the Middle East and North Africa. As you rightly remind us: Sanguis martyrum semen Christianorum.

  19. chcrix says:

    I don’t know how I missed this:

    ” Some think that the quest for nuclear weapons by the present regime in Iran forms part of a strategy to hasten the return of the “twelfth imam” by provoking a conflagration.”

    And some, including especially our government’s own security agencies, dispute that there is a quest for nuclear weapons by the present regime.

    But if some Shia thought runs in these channels, does that make them any sillier or more presumptuous than some of our protestant brethren who believe that it is a Christian duty to support Israel because God needs help to bring about the end of the world?

  20. Christianity is on the rise in Iran? I don’t know about this, but I hope it’s true. Christians are so badly persecuted in the Middle East, and we know the blood of the Martyrs is the seed of the Church.

    But things surely do look back for Christianity in here in the West right now. If the Western world would only wake up and embrace it’s Christian heritage and turn to Our Lady of Victory as in the days of the battle against Islam at Lepanto, then Our Lady would obtain all the graces we need from her Son.

    Then the True Faith would supersede Islam everywhere. Islam simply has no power when we turn to Our Lord. But if not, then we deserve our punishment; the continuation of beautiful churches being sold off–one by one–to the Muslims, and an increase of religious persecution of Christians everywhere throughout the world. Our Lady will intercede if we pray the rosary. Please pray the rosary to this end, as our ancestors did in Lepanto.

  21. AvantiBev says:

    To Cherix: “the weapon of mass destruction” is the Quaran dictated by “Gabriel” aka Satan to an Arab man about as psychologically stable as the carrot topped Colorado mass murderer.

    As for those here actually worried that the majority of conversions are to evangelical Protestantism, I welcome that over the supremacist, misogynistic, anti-Semitic, Christian-killing, dog hating doctrine of that false god and his false prophet. The blood of Pastor Nardakhani and other Christians sentenced to death in Iran may miss the lame stream media’s 11 o’clock news but God sees and hears the cries of His children who suffer for His Name.

  22. acardnal says:

    I get the jihadwatch’s daily email.

  23. Imrahil says:

    For the record, dear @iPadre, Europe is not becoming Muslim. I say nothing (nothing to either side) about France and England, but – however the status of Christianity there is – the rest of Europe (including the rest of the United Kingdom) is not becoming Muslim.

    On the content of the article, I’m inclined to believe that what he says about the status of Islam in Persia is true. I’d be quite surprised if it is true (but let’s hope it is) if they also embrace Christianity, at a time when the West (which, whether we like it or not, is seen to a degree as the expression of Christianity) itself is a bit slow in asserting either that all who belong to itself should be Christian (if necessary by conversion) or that all of the others should be Christian (if necessary by conversion).

  24. Supertradmum says:

    Imrahil, I must contradict you. There are no research statistics on the growth of Christianity in Iran. I do not go by hearsay. I realize statistics are hard to come by, but the mass emigration of Christians from Lebanon, Syria, (http://www.jihadwatch.org/2012/07/syria-christians-flee-from-jihadist-rebels.html ),Israel, Iraq and the Gaze Strip are caused by an increasingly hostile environment for Christians makes me doubt it.

    Although the great rise of Muslims in Europe is not as expected, as in some countries birth-control is being accepted in Muslim families, the influx of immigrants for Africa and the Middle East will cause a moderate rise. As Christianity fades away, in some countries, Muslims will account for the majority of people involves in actual religious participation. Here are two statistics. “Most European Muslims will continue to live in Eastern Europe, but some of the biggest increases in Europe’s Muslim population in absolute numbers over the next 20 years are expected to occur in the United Kingdom, France, Italy, Germany and other countries in Western, Northern and Southern Europe.” And, this is from Pew as is the following. “The number of Muslims in Europe has grown from 29.6 million in 1990 to 44.1 million in 2010.34 Europe’s Muslim population is projected to exceed 58 million by 2030. Muslims today account for about 6% of Europe’s total population, up from 4.1% in 1990. By 2030, Muslims are expected to make up 8% of Europe’s population. Although Europe’s Muslim population is growing, Europe’s share of the global Muslim population will remain quite small. Less than 3% of the world’s Muslims are expected to be living in Europe in 2030, about the same portion as in 2010 (2.7%).”

    And, here is one section of an article on Germany, not France or England, as you dismiss so oddly, “Muslims in Europe are increasingly converting empty Christian churches into mosques.
    The proliferation of mosques housed in former churches reflects the rise of Islam as the fastest growing religion in post-Christian Europe.
    There are now more practicing Muslims than practicing Christians in many parts of Europe, not only in large urban centers, but also in smaller towns and cities across the continent.
    As Islam replaces Christianity as the dominant religion in Europe, more and more churches are set to become mosques, which increasingly serve not only as religious institutions but also function as the foundational political building blocks for the establishment of separate, parallel Muslim communities in Europe that are based on Islamic Sharia law.
    The latest churches destined to become mosques are located in Germany, where the Roman Catholic Church has announced plans to close up to six churches in Duisburg, an industrial city in northwestern part of the country, due to falling church attendance.
    Duisburg, which has a total population of 500,000, is home to around 100,000 mostly Turkish Muslims, making it one of the most Islamized cities in Germany.
    Muslims in Duisburg are now clamoring to turn empty churches in the city into mosques, according to the Germany daily newspaper, Der Westen.”

    France and England have the largest Muslim communities, as I witness daily. In France, as of this spring, there are about six million Muslims. In England, and I use Pew again, there are almost 3 million. These are non-assimilating communities, which is the problem. Eurabia also refers to the imposition of shariah law on some areas of Europe. I highly suggest you read JihadWatch on a regular basis as well as LifeSiteNews, both which have excellent reporters on the ground in Europe and elsewhere. The point is that Europe is not growing in Christianity. Quite the opposite. Christians are making themselves extinct by birth-control and by not getting married. 33% of the households in England are run by singles. Read my blog. There are parts of France even now where non-Muslims cannot walk in peace. The same is true here. There was a survey done of ministers here in England as to whether they have been attacked in Muslim areas. The vast majority have been physically attacked.

    In addition, there are many converts to Islam in Great Britain, and 66% are women, which I find astounding.

  25. Imrahil says:

    I dismissed France and England “oddly” because a) they are not all of Europe and because b) the reason for the strong Muslim presence there is immigrants from ancient colonies, which is a cause of its own. All are always saying “Europe is becoming Muslim”, but I never hear anybody say “Spain is becoming Muslim”, “Italy is becoming Muslim”, etc.

    At the same time, of course I also dismissed Albania, Bosnia and (if European) Turkey – because these are Muslim countries.

    Anyway, thank you for your well-informed and kind answer. Especially the thing about the converts; I had not thought that this happens in important numbers. (That most of them are women I’d have guessed. Women by a sad tradition are more interested in the religious question; in the meantime, women except orthodox Catholic women tend to value “religiousness”, of which Islam has a lot, more than truth, which Islam only asserts to have and is done with it. And Islam brings a way out of Feminism – while the heavier parts of Muslim treatment of women are prevented by the secular power.)

    In Germany Churches are not sold to Muslims for turning into mosques by either the Roman Catholics or the mainstream Protestants. However, I might add the Rhineland to the list of the territories in highest danger to fall to Islam.

    The point is that Europe is not growing in Christianity.
    Yes, and that is dangerous. But even though these points are probably connected, whether it is “growing in Islam” is a different thing.

  26. Supertradmum says:

    Imrahil, Islam does not bring a woman out of feminism, but into slavery. I have read much of the hadith and the Koran several times. I have taught Islam for three years at the college level. Women are slaves under shariah law. This is why I do not understand the conversions.

  27. Supertradmum says:

    sorry archaic spelling, sharia is acceptable now everywhere.

  28. Imrahil says:

    I was talking about the appeal Islam has on women – who mostly have not taught Islam for three years at the college level.

    And besides, if women are slaves under the Islamic law (which is true), then that does bring them out of Feminism. Of course it is not good that they’re brought out of Feminism this way… but we’re not talking about people like yourself who have made up their mind using profound reasoning. I do venture to assume that a profound dislike of the feminist model of woman (which I think is more general than the moderns are willing to suppose) brings them into the contrary evil which they face in Islam.

    And then, I hate to say it, but slavery itself, excepting its name (and names like “non-free”), has a certain appeal (which we must fight), if it is not slavery in condition of hunger. There has been and is a desire for the Meat-Pots of Egypt.

  29. Bev says:

    Iran protects historic religions — including Catholics, Orthodox, and Armenian. The only persecuted Christians are the Protestant heretics. It is true that a Moslem convert to Christianity may face punishment, though it is rather mild when compared to the Arab world. Keep in mind that the Iranians are Persians, an intelligent and rather western culture that is fond of wine and poetry. The brutal regimes are Arab, not Persian. Most of the negative things we think about Iran is due to false government propaganda.

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