While much attention to the persecution of Christians in the Middle East has focused on Iraq and Syria, Shay Khatiri calls attention to the growing, and endangered, Christian population of Iran:
Islam is the fastest shrinking religion [in Iran], while Christianity is the fastest growing. According to a U.S. State Department report from 2018, up to half a million Iranians are Christian converts from Muslim families, and most of these Christians are evangelicals. Recent estimates claim that the number might have climbed up to somewhere between one million and three million.
Under Iran’s constitution, Christians have full rights to practice their religion, but they don’t have the right to evangelize. The government also restricts . . . the selling and the distribution of Hebrew and Christian Bibles to people the government identifies as Muslim, and sellers have gone to prison. The state only protects freedom of worship for those born into Christian families. Under Iran’s apostasy laws, conversion out of Islam merits the death penalty. Conversely, those who convert into Islam receive special rights—precisely, complete inheritance from their parents, leaving their non-Muslim siblings empty-handed.
Similarly, Iranian Jews officially have religious freedom, but that fact hardly reflects their actual situation. Khatiri calls on Washington to take note:
Both the United States government and Christian groups should prioritize Iran’s treatment of Christian converts. Many other states persecute Christians, but Iran has perhaps the highest rate of persecution and the greatest number of Christian converts, who persistently resist government persecution.