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Encyclopedia > Christians in Iran
St. Stepanous Cathedral in East Azarbaijan, Iran, is said to have been erected shortly after the ascension of Jesus Christ
St. Stepanous Cathedral in East Azarbaijan, Iran, is said to have been erected shortly after the ascension of Jesus Christ

Christianity in Iran has had a long history. It has always been a minority religion, overshadowed by the majority state religions - Zoroastrianism in the past, and Shia Islam today. Christians of Iran have played a significant part in the history of Christian mission. Image File history File links Download high resolution version (1024x407, 391 KB) Summary St. ... Image File history File links Download high resolution version (1024x407, 391 KB) Summary St. ... East Azarbaijan province enjoys some of Irans most favorable climatic conditions. ... The neutrality of this article is disputed. ... A state religion (also called an established church or state church) is a religious body or creed officially endorsed by the state. ... Faravahar (or Ferohar), the depiction of the human soul before birth and after death. ... Shiʻa Islam (Arabic شيعى follower; English has traditionally used Shiite) makes up the second largest sect of believers in Islam, constituting about 30%–35% of all Muslim. ... Islam (Arabic: ; ( â–¶ (help· info)), the peaceful submission to the will of God) is a monotheistic faith, one of the Abrahamic religions and the worlds second-largest religion. ... Since the Lausanne Congress of 1974, a widely-accepted definition of a Christian mission has been to form a viable indigenous church-planting movement. ...

Contents


Main denominations

A number of Christian denominations are represented in Iran. Many members of the larger, older churches belong to ethnic groups with their own distinctive culture and language. The members of the newer, smaller churches are drawn both from the traditionally Christian ethnic minorities and to an increasingly larger degree converts from non-Christian background. A denomination, in the Christian sense of the word, is an identifiable religious body, organization under a common name, structure, and/or doctrine. ... Religious conversion is the adoption of new religious beliefs that differ from the converts previous beliefs; in some cultures (e. ...


The main Christian churches are:

All statistical information is from church-based sources[2] and reflects the situation in the year 2000 (Christians formed 0.2% of total Iranian population in 2000). The Armenian Apostolic Church, sometimes incorrectly called the Armenian Orthodox Church is the worlds oldest national church and one of the original churches, having been founded in 301. ... The Holy Apostolic and Catholic Assyrian Church of the East is a Christian church that traces its origins to the See of Babylon, said to be founded by Saint Thomas the Apostle. ... The Chaldean Catholic Church is an Eastern Rite sui juris (autonomous ritual church) particular church of the Catholic Church, maintaining full communion with the Pope in Rome. ... Protestantism is a general grouping of denominations within Christianity. ... Presbyterianism is part of the Reformed churches family of denominations of Christian Protestantism based on the teachings of John Calvin which traces its institutional roots to the Scottish Reformation, especially as led by John Knox. ... Jamiat-e Rabbani is the Iranian branch of the Assemblies of God, one of the largest evangelical pentecostal christian churches. ... The Assemblies of God is a common name for many Pentecostal congregations and denomination. ... The Anglican Communion is a world-wide organisation of Anglican Churches. ...


According to the same sources there are between 7,000 and 15,000 members and adherents of the various Protestant and Evangelical churches in Iran, though these numbers are particularly difficult to verify under the current political circumstances. Protestantism is a movement within Christianity, representing a splitting away from the Roman Catholic Church during the mid-to-late Renaissance in Europe —a period known as the Protestant Reformation. ... The word evangelicalism usually refers to a tendency in diverse branches of Protestantism, typified by an emphasis on evangelism, a personal experience of conversion, biblically-oriented faith, and a belief in the relevance of Christian faith to cultural issues. ...


The International Religious Freedom Report 2004 by the US State Department[3] quotes a somewhat higher total number of 300.000 Christians in Iran, without giving separate numbers for the different denominations.


Iranian government sources are sometimes quoted as giving a total of 110,000 Christians in Iran.


History

Qara Kelissa, West Azarbaijan. Believed by some to have been first built in 66 AD by Saint Jude. Local Armenians believe that he and Simon were both buried here. In 1329, the church was reconstructed to its present form after an earthquake destroyed the structure in 1319.
Qara Kelissa, West Azarbaijan. Believed by some to have been first built in 66 AD by Saint Jude. Local Armenians believe that he and Simon were both buried here. In 1329, the church was reconstructed to its present form after an earthquake destroyed the structure in 1319.

According to the reports of the Acts of the Apostles there were Persians, Parthians and Medes among the very first new Christian converts at Pentecost. Since then, there had been a continuous presence of Christians and churches in Persia/Iran. Image File history File links Qareh_kelissa. ... Image File history File links Qareh_kelissa. ... Qara Kelissa is a famous historical church of Armenian Orthodox Iranians. ... West Azarbaijan (in Persian, آذربایجان ØºØ±Ø¨ÛŒ Azarbāyejān-e-Qarbi; in Kurdish, Azerbaycanî Rojawa; in Azerbaijani, QÉ™rbi AzÉ™rbaycan) is one of the 30 provinces of Iran. ... For other uses, see number 66. ... , by Georges de La Tour. ... Events Antipope Nicholas V is excommunicated by Pope John XXII. Aimone of Savoy becomes Count of Savoy. ... Events Magnus VII ascends the throne of Norway and unites the country with Sweden. ... The Acts of the Apostles (Greek Praxeis Apostolon) is a book of the Bible, which now stands fifth in the New Testament. ... The Persians of Iran (officially named Persia by West until 1935 while still referred to as Persia by some) are an Iranian people who speak Persian (locally named Fârsi by native speakers) and often refer to themselves as ethnic Iranians as well. ... Reproduction of a Parthian warrior as depicted on Trajans Column The Parthian Empire was the dominating force on the Iranian plateau beginning in the late 3rd century BCE, and intermittently controlled Mesopotamia between ca 190 BCE and 224 CE. Origins Bust of Parthian soldier, Esgh-abad Museum, Turkmenia. ... The Medes were an Iranian people, who lived in the western and north-western portion of present-day Iran. ... The name of the Jewish holiday Shavuot is commonly translated as Pentecost. Pentecost is the Christian festival that commemorates the descent of the Holy Spirit upon the Apostles, fifty days after the Resurrection of Jesus at Easter, and ten days after the Ascension. ...


During the apostolic age, Christianity began to establish itself throughout the Mediterranean. However, a quite different Christian culture developed on the eastern borders of the Roman Empire and in Persia. Syriac Christianity owed much to Judaism and the Aramaic language. This language was most probably spoken by Jesus, and in various modern forms is still spoken by some Christians in Iran today (see Assyrian Neo-Aramaic and Senaya language). From Persia, missionary activity established the Saint Thomas Christians of India and the Nestorian Stele and Daqin Pagoda in China. The Mediterranean Sea is an intercontinental sea positioned between Europe to the north, Africa to the south and Asia to the east, covering an approximate area of 2. ... For other uses, see Roman Empire (disambiguation) The Roman Empire is the term conventionally used to describe the Ancient Roman polity in the centuries following its reorganization under the leadership of Octavian (better known as Augustus), until its radical reformation in what was later to be known as the Byzantine... The Persian Empire is the name used to refer to a number of historic dynasties that have ruled the country of Persia (Iran). ... Syriac Christianity is a culturally and linguistically distinctive community within Eastern Christianity. ... Judaism is the religion of the Jewish people. ... Aramaic is a Semitic language with a 3,000-year history. ... Jesus, Jesus of Nazareth or Jesus the Nazarene (circa 4 BC/BCE – 30 AD/CE), is the central figure of Christianity, in which context he is known as Jesus Christ (from Greek Ιησούς Χριστός) with Christ being a title meaning Anointed One or Messiah. Christian viewpoints on Jesus (known as Christology) are... Assyrian Neo-Aramaic is a modern Eastern Aramaic or Syriac language. ... The Senaya language is a modern Eastern Aramaic or Syriac language. ... A missionary is a propagator of religion, often an evangelist or other representative of a religious community who works among those outside of that community. ... Saint Thomas Christians or Mar Thoma Khristianis (Malayalam  :മാ൪േതാമാ കൃിസ്തിയാനികള്) is a phrase commonly used to describe a variety of different peoples of India and its vicinity who have Syriac Christian connections tracing back to the earliest period of Christianity in India. ... The Nestorian Stele, Nestorian Stone, formally the Memorial of the Propagation in China of the Luminous Religion from Daqin (大秦景教流行中國碑; pinyin: Dàqín Jǐngjiào liúxíng Zhōngguó béi, abbreviated 大秦景教碑), and also known as the Hsi-an Monument, is a Tang Chinese stele erected in 781... Remnants of the pagoda Daqin Pagoda (大秦塔) in Zhouzhi, Shaanxi Province, China is the remnant of the earliest surviving Christian church in China. ...


The early Christian community, straddling the Roman-Persian border, were often caught up in the midst of conflict. In 313, when Constantine I proclaimed Christianity to be a tolerated religion in the Roman Empire, the Sassanid rulers of Persia adopted a policy of persecution against Christians, including the double-tax of Shapur II in the 340s. Christians were feared as a subversive and potentially disloyal minority. In the early 5th century, official persecution increased once more. However, from the reign of Hormizd III (457-459) serious persecutions grew less frequent and the church began to have recognised status. Political pressure within Persia and cultural differences with western Christianity were mostly to blame for the Nestorian schism, in which the Persian church was labelled as heretical. The bishop of the Persian capital, Ctesiphon, acquired the title first of catholicos, and then patriarch completely independent of any western hierarchy. For other uses, see 313 (number). ... Contemporary bronze head of Constantine. ... Sassanid Empire at its greatest extent The Sassanid dynasty (also Sassanian) was the name given to the kings of Persia during the era of the second Persian Empire, from 224 until 651, when the last Sassanid shah, Yazdegerd III, lost a 14-year struggle to drive out the Umayyad Caliphate... Shapur II the Great was king of Persia (309 - 379). ... Centuries: 3rd century - 4th century - 5th century Decades: 290s - 300s - 310s - 320s - 330s - 340s - 350s - 360s - 370s - 380s - 390s Years: 340 341 342 343 344 345 346 347 348 349 Events Ulfilas missionary to the Goths Significant People Constans, Roman Emperor Constantius II, Roman Emperor Categories: 340s ... // Overview Events Romulus Augustus, Last Western Roman Emperor 410: Rome sacked by Visigoths 452: Pope Leo I allegedly meets personally with Attila the Hun and convinces him not to sack Rome 439: Vandals conquer Carthage At some point after 440, the Anglo-Saxons settle in Britain. ... Hormizd III, king of Persia, son of Yazdegerd II, succeeded his father in 457. ... Events February 7 - Leo I becomes East Roman emperor. ... Events Dathusena becomes king of Sri Lanka Arguably the worlds first recognizable labor union is formed in Turkey Births Deaths Simeon Stylites dies on top of his tower along the road from Antioch to Seleucia Hormizd III, king of Persia Category: ... The Nestorian Schism was the split between the Byzantine church of the West and the Assyrian church of the East in the 5th century. ... Heresy, according to the Oxford English Dictionary, is a theological or religious opinion or doctrine maintained in opposition, or held to be contrary, to the ‘catholic’ or orthodox doctrine of the Christian Church, or, by extension, to that of any church, creed, or religious system, considered as orthodox. ... A bishop is an ordained member of the Christian clergy who, in certain Christian churches, holds a position of authority. ... Ctesiphon (Parthian: Tyspwn as well as Tisfun) is one of the great cities of ancient Mesopotamia and the capital of the Iranian Parthian Empire and its successor, the Sassanid Empire, for more than 800 years located in ancient Iranian province of Khvarvaran. ... Catholicos (plural Catholicoi) is a title used by the head bishop of any of certain Eastern churches. ... Originally a patriarch was a man who exercised autocratic authority as a pater familias over an extended family. ...


Yet many old churches remain in Iran from the early days of Christianity. The Church of St. Mary in northwestern Iran for example, is considered by some historians to be the second oldest church after the Church of Bethlehem in Palestine. A Chinese princess, who contributed to its recontruction in 642 AD, has her name engraved on a stone on the church wall. The famous Italian traveller Marco Polo, also described the church in his itinerery during his visit. Events August 5 - In the Battle of Maserfield, Penda king of Mercia defeats and kills Oswald, king of Bernicia. ... Marco Polo (September 15, 1254, Venice, Italy; or Curzola, Venetian Dalmatia - now Korčula, Croatia — January 8, 1324, Venice) was a Venetian trader and explorer who, together with his father Niccolò and his uncle Maffeo, was one of the first Westerners to travel the Silk Road to China (which he...


The Islamic conquest of Persia, in the 7th century, was originally good for Christians as they were a protected minority. However, from about the 10th century religious tension led to persecution once more. The influence of European Christians once more placed Asian Christians in peril with the onslaught of the Crusades. From the mid 13th century, Mongol rule was a relief to Persian Christians until they adopted Islam. Christianity gradually gave way to Islam, and Persian Christianity shrunk into a small minority. Christians withdrew into ethnic ghettos (mostly Aramaic and Armenian speaking) and disengaged largely from mainstream society. Islam (Arabic: ; ( ▶ (help· info)), the peaceful submission to the will of God) is a monotheistic faith, one of the Abrahamic religions and the worlds second-largest religion. ... // Overview Events The Roman-Persian Wars end. ... As a means of recording the passage of time, the 10th century was that century which lasted from 901 to 1000. ... This article is about historical Crusades . ... (12th century - 13th century - 14th century - other centuries) As a means of recording the passage of time, the 13th century was that century which lasted from 1201 to 1300. ... Honorary guard of Mongolia. ... A ghetto is an area where people from a specific ethnic background or united in a given culture or religion live as a group, voluntarily or involuntarily, in milder or stricter seclusion. ... Aramaic is a Semitic language with a 3,000-year history. ...


In 1445, a part of the Aramaic-speaking church (mostly in the Ottoman Empire, but also in Persia) entered into communion with the Roman Catholic Church. This group had a faltering start, but has existed as a separate church since the consecration of Yohanan Sulaqa as Chaldean Patriarch of Babylon in 1551 by the pope. Most Catholics in Iran today are members of the Chaldean Catholic Church. The Aramaic-speaking community that remains independent is the Assyrian Church of the East. Both of these churches now have smaller representation in Iran than the ethnic Armenian Apostolic Church. Events Discovery of Senegal and Cape Verde by Dinas Diaz Births March 1 - Sandro Botticelli, Italian painter (died 1510) March 16 - Johann Geiler von Kaisersberg, Swiss-born preacher (died 1510) Albert Brudzewski, Polish astronomer (died 1497) Nicolas Chuquet, French mathematician Deaths June 5 - Leonel Power, English composer June 11 - Henry... Imperial motto (Ottoman Turkish) Devlet-i Ebed-müddet (the Eternal State) The Ottoman Empire at the height of its power (1683) Official language Ottoman Turkish Capital Bursa (1335 - 1365), Edirne (1365-1453), İstanbul (1453-1922) Imperial anthem Ottoman imperial anthem Sovereigns Padishah of the Osmanli Dynasty Population ca 40... The Roman Catholic Church, (also known as the Catholic Church), is the ancient Christian Church led by the Pope, the Bishop of Rome. ... Events Russia, Reforming Synod of the metropolite Macaire, Orthodoxy: introduction of a calendar of the saints and an ecclesiastical law code ( Stoglav ) Major outbreak of the sweating sickness in England. ... The Pope (from Greek: pappas, father; from Latin: papa, Papa, father) is the successor of St. ... The Chaldean Catholic Church is an Eastern Rite sui juris (autonomous ritual church) particular church of the Catholic Church, maintaining full communion with the Pope in Rome. ... The Holy Apostolic and Catholic Assyrian Church of the East is a Christian church that traces its origins to the See of Babylon, said to be founded by Saint Thomas the Apostle. ... The Armenian Apostolic Church, sometimes incorrectly called the Armenian Orthodox Church is the worlds oldest national church and one of the original churches, having been founded in 301. ...


In the 18th and 19th centuries, Protestant missionaries began to minister in Persia. A lot of their work was directed towards supporting the extant churches of the country, and improving education and health care. Unlike the older, ethnic churches, they began to engage with the Persian Muslim community also. Their printing presses produced much religious material in various languages. Some converted to Protestantism, and churches using the Persian language still thrive within Iran and beyond. (17th century - 18th century - 19th century - more centuries) As a means of recording the passage of time, the 18th century refers to the century that lasted from 1701 through 1800. ... Alternative meaning: Nineteenth Century (periodical) (18th century — 19th century — 20th century — more centuries) As a means of recording the passage of time, the 19th century was that century which lasted from 1801-1900 in the sense of the Gregorian calendar. ... Protestantism is a general grouping of denominations within Christianity. ... A missionary is a propagator of religion, often an evangelist or other representative of a religious community who works among those outside of that community. ... Persian (فارسی = Fârsi . ...


Current situation

Due to the socio-economic and political pressures in the years following the Iranian Revolution, periods of outright persecution and times of more latent discrimination many Iranian Christians, both as part of the general exodus of Iranians and as response to the specific pressures, have emigrated, mostly to the USA, Canada and Western Europe. In 2000, about 0.2% of Iran's population were Christians. In 1975, Christians numbered about 1.5% of the total population. Statistically, a much larger percentage of non-Muslims have emigrated out of Iran. Protestors take to the street in support of Ayatollah Khomeini. ... Western Europe is distinguished from Eastern Europe by differences of history and culture rather than by geography. ...


Despite its long history in Iran, Christianity has often been seen by Islamic Republic as sympathetic to western ideals. The persecution of the Protestant churches has perhaps been more severe for this very reason. Government intrusion, expropriation of property, forced closure and persecution, particularly in the initial years after the Iranian Revolution, have all been alleged. Most prominent has been the death of Haik Hovsepian Mehr, bishop of the Jamiat-e Rabbani, in 1994. Recently the continuing imprisonment of Hamid Pourmand a lay pastor of Jammiat-e Rabboni and the murder of Ghorban Tourani, the pastor of an independent evangelical church have created international concern[4]. Haik Hovsepian Mehr (killed January, 1994), was an Iranian bishop, born in Tehran on January 6, 1945. ... 1994 (MCMXCIV) was a common year starting on Saturday of the Gregorian calendar, and was designated the International year of the Family. ... Ghorban Tourani Ghorban Dordi Tourani (1952 - 22nd November 2005), also called Ghorban Tori, was a Iranian Christian lay-minister. ...


The Jamiat-e Rabbani churches and the Anglican Church are both readily accepting converts from Islam and are subsequently growing in membership. About 80% of Jamiat-e Rabbani's members are currently converts from Islam. The majority of other Christian denominations continues to shrink due to emigration. Jamiat-e Rabbani is the Iranian branch of the Assemblies of God, one of the largest evangelical pentecostal christian churches. ... The Anglican Communion is a world-wide organisation of Anglican Churches. ...


The Bible in Iranian languages

Armenian and Assyrian Christians use Bibles in their own languages. Assyrian may refer to: Assyria ܐܬܘܿܪ Assyrian cuisine Assyrian flag Assyrian independence Assyrian people ܥܠܡܐ ܐܬܘܿܪܝܝܐ Assyrian Languages ܠܫܢܐ ܐܬܘܿܪܝܝܐ Akkadian language Aramaic language Syriac language Eastern Syriac Assyrian Neo-Aramaic Chaldean Neo-Aramaic Western Syriac Mlahso language Turoyo language Church of the East List of Assyrians This is a disambiguation page: a list of...


There are several contemporary translations of the Bible available in Persian. The first Bible translation of modern times was conducted by Henry Martyn in the 18th century. Current commonly used translations are the Tarjumeh-ye Tafsiri (explained translation) and the older Standard Version. Persian (فارسی = Fârsi . ... Henry Martyn (February 18, 1781 - October 6, 1812), English missionary to India, was born at Truro, Cornwall. ... (17th century - 18th century - 19th century - more centuries) As a means of recording the passage of time, the 18th century refers to the century that lasted from 1701 through 1800. ...


Portions of the Bible are translated into Azeri (New Testament), Mazanderani (several gospels) and Kurdish (gospels). The Azerbaijani language, also called Azeri, Azari, Azeri Turkish, or Azerbaijani Turkish, is the official language of Republic of Azerbaijan. ... Mazanderani (also spelled Mazandarani; in Persian: مازندرانی) is one of the Iranian languages spoken in north-western province of Iran, Mazandaran. ... The Kurdish language (Kurdî in Kurdish), is spoken in the region loosely called Kurdistan, including Kurdish populations in parts of Iran (Persia), Iraq, Syria and Turkey [1]. Kurdish is an official language in Iraq while it is banned in Syria. ...


See also

Religious Minorities in Iran, Iranian Jews The Hindu Temple in Bandar Abbas, Iran, built during the Qajar era for Indian soldiers serving in the British Army during the British occupation. ... Persian Jews, or Iranian Jews, are a group of ancient Jewish communities living throughout the former greatest extents of the Persian Empire. ...


Further Literature

  • A Brief History of Christianity in Iran by Massoume Price
  • A History of Christianity in Asia: Beginnings to 1500 by Samuel Hugh Moffett, Harper and Row, San Francisco, 1992.
  • Statistical Information from : Operation World Website
  • Christian architecture in Iran

  Results from FactBites:
 
Urban Legends Reference Pages: Iranian Law Requires Badges for Jews and Christians (1823 words)
Iran's roughly 25,000 Jews would have to sew a yellow strip of cloth on the front of their clothes, while Christians would wear red badges and Zoroastrians would be forced to wear blue cloth.
Iran does not yet have nuclear weapons, but Tehran believed by Western nations to be developing its own nuclear military capability, in defiance of international protocols and peace treaties.
Iran's conservative-dominated parliament is debating a draft law that would discourage women from wearing Western clothing, increase taxes on imported clothes and fund an advertising campaign to encourage citizens to wear Islamic-style garments.
The persecutin of Christians in Iran information sheet (2211 words)
The persecution of Christians in Iran today is not a series of isolated events or the result of individual prejudices but rather a state policy implemented at all levels in various forms.
Iran's Supreme Court on two occasions dismissed the first charge on grounds that the letter was not proved to be in Hossein's handwriting and the second charge as unfounded.
The persecution of Christians in Iran has decimated the leadership of the Protestant evangelical community in that country and created an atmosphere of terror under which the church is presently suffering.
  More results at FactBites »

 
 

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