The Underground Church in Iran is 1 Million Strong, Study Indicates

Word from Iran is that God’s Word has been at work, converting people to the Christian faith and thus building the church in Iran. Now a survey from a secular organization offers statistical insights about the spiritual—and secular—revolutions occurring there.

Of the 50,000 Iranians questioned by Netherlands-based research company GAMAAN (Group for Analyzing and Measuring Attitudes in Iran), 1.5 percent identify as Christians. When extrapolated, that indicates 1 million “secret” Christians could exist within Iran’s population of 80 million.

Obtaining numbers is difficult, because Iranians who publicly leave Islam face capital punishment. On the latest “World Watch List” from Open Doors, Iran ranks ninth for Christian persecution. 

Shift Could Threaten Islamic Regime

Iran’s Islamic regime, in place for four decades, claims that 95 percent of citizens are Shia Muslim. Yet in the new survey, just 32 percent of respondents claim that identity. Almost half (46 percent) say they’ve switched from being religious to having no religion, and 42 percent say they oppose public propagation of any faith.

Iran’s leaders had staunchly denied reports that up to 1 million Iranians were quietly practicing Christianity, but they’re beginning to acknowledge the change. In May 2019, the minister of intelligence admitted that conversions away from Islam were “happening right before our eyes.”

UK-based Middle East expert Afshin Shahi says Iranian officials are acknowledging a serious threat. “They have even coined a term for it: Andalusiazation, which implies the gradual de-Islamization of cultural structures.” The “political domination of the Islamists” is at risk, says Shahi, adding that it’s “not surprising that [Iran’s] Supreme Leader regards ‘cultural invasion’ as more dangerous than a military invasion.”

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Source: Church Leaders