Liberal outlets have rightly been called out for their failure to report accurately on the protests in Iran. But there’s something that not even the conservative media is telling you. It’s an important backstory that might be playing a role in this rising protest movement.
Caroline Glick noted in her article in the Jerusalem Post: “Given the earth shattering potential of the protests it is extraordinary to see the liberal media in the US and Europe struggle to downplay their significance.” And “the US, former members of the Obama administration and the liberal media have determinedly downplayed the importance of the protests.”
Writing for the Daily Wire, Ryan Saavedra stated:
The media initially ignored what was going on in Iran, likely because it reflected negatively on former President Barack Obama, whose Iran nuclear deal was supposed to help Iran’s economy, and because the Trump administration’s response was night-and-day better than Obama’s response in 2009.
CNN and The New York Times did a terrible job of covering the protests, while ABC News’ Matthew Dowd declared that the U.S. did not have the moral authority to talk about Iran because ‘we’ don’t talk about Russia.
So, again, the liberal media have been taken to task for its unfair coverage of the Iranian protests. And rightly so. It would be hard to find a greater contrast than that between the courageous protesters and the cowardly media.
But there’s something else going on in Iran. It could well be playing a role in the rising Iranian discontent.
Trading Islam for Christ
It remains one of the best kept secrets in the world. Iranian Muslims are converting to Christianity at an unprecedented pace, perhaps by the thousands every day.
I’ve heard this firsthand from Iranian converts. I’ve heard it firsthand from Christian leaders who have worked with these converts inside and outside of Iran. And I’ve heard it from missiologists whose job it is to track such things.
And it’s reminiscent of the conversion of tens of millions of Chinese behind the cover of the Bamboo Curtain. Missiologists were reporting it for years before the rest of the world found out about it. Now, it’s an open secret, leading to headlines like this, from April 14, 2014, in the UK Telegraph: “China on course to become ‘world’s most Christian nation’ within 15 years. The number of Christians in Communist China is growing so steadily that it by 2030 it could have more churchgoers than America.”
Safa is himself from Iran and a former Shiite Muslim. Now he’s an evangelical pastor. His website declares, “Despite severe persecution by the Iranian government against underground churches, God’s Word is spreading like a wildfire all over Iran. Pastor Safa believes that Iran will be the first Islamic nation to convert to Christianity.”
This may sound like a pipe dream. But consider a 2012 Pew Research report. It claimed that “the share of the population that is Christian in sub-Saharan Africa climbed from 9% in 1910 to 63% in 2010.” And much of this growth occurred in the midst of Muslim-majority populations.
The same thing is happening throughout the Muslim world. Last year the National Catholic Register claimed, “Muslims Are Converting to Christianity in Record Numbers.” This too has been an open secret for many years now.
The article reports that there are now three million Iranian Christians. This would mean a massive jump from the numbers posted in the respected prayer guide, Operation World. It claimed a total of 384,897 Christians from all backgrounds in Iran (compared to 74,054,491 Muslims). Just 117,678 were listed as evangelicals. Getting from there to three million is extraordinary.
That’s why Mohabat News (the Iranian Christian News Agency) reported in August 2017:
Christianity has been growing at an exponential rate in the last couple of decades in Iran, causing the Islamic government a great deal of concern. In a most recent expression of their distress, one of the high profile Islamic seminary officials, Ayatollah Alavi Boroujerdi, stated “accurate reports indicate that the youth are becoming Christians in Qom and attending house churches.”
And, the article continues, “this is not a new development. Earlier reports had also shown a surprising rise in the number of Iranians turning away from Islam and converting to Christianity.”
That’s why Fox News could report in 2016, “The number of Muslim converts who are risking prison or death by secretly worshipping as Christians in Iran’s house church movement has grown to as many as 1 million people, according to watchdog groups.”
Something powerful is happening in Iran, despite the intense persecution Christians are facing.
My sources tell me it’s only a matter of time before the number of conversions reaches a critical mass. This would allow new Christians to emerge from the underground into the public eye. Further, it’s the Iranian regime that is our enemy, not the Iranian people. Many of them love America and hate what the radical Islamic leadership has done to their country.
We should pray for these courageous Christians. More broadly, we should stand with these Iranian protesters. There could be many secret converts among them. We should applaud our government for letting Iran know that we are watching them carefully right now.
It could be time for this great, hidden story to be known to the whole world.
Dr. Michael Brown (www.askdrbrown.org) is a Senior Contributor to The Stream, and the host of the nationally syndicated Line of Fire radio program. His latest book is Saving a Sick America: A Prescription for Moral and Cultural Transformation. Connect with him on Facebook or Twitter.
He became a believer in Jesus 1971 as a sixteen year-old, heroin-shooting, LSD-using Jewish rock drummer. Since then, he has preached throughout America and around the world, bringing a message of repentance, revival, reformation and cultural revolution. He holds a Ph.D. in Near Eastern Languages and Literatures from New York University and has served as a visiting or adjunct professor at Southern Evangelical Seminary, Gordon Conwell Theological Seminary (Charlotte), Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, Fuller Theological Seminary, Denver Theological Seminary, the King’s Seminary and Regent University School of Divinity, and he has contributed numerous articles to scholarly publications, including the Oxford Dictionary of Jewish Religion and the Theological Dictionary of the Old Testament.
Dr. Brown is the author of more than 25 books, including Our Hands Are Stained with Blood: The Tragic Story of the “Church” and the Jewish People, which has been translated into more than twelve languages, the highly acclaimed five-volume series, Answering Jewish Objections to Jesus, a commentary on Jeremiah (part of the revised edition of the Expositor’s Bible Commentary), and several books on revival and the Jesus revolution. His newest books are Outlasting the Gay Revolution: Where Homosexual Activism Is Really Going and How to Turn the Tide (2015), The Grace Controversy: Answering 12 Common Questions about Grace (2016) andBreaking the Stronghold of Food (2017).
Dr. Brown is a national and international speaker on themes of spiritual renewal and cultural reformation, and he has debated Jewish rabbis, agnostic professors, and gay activists on radio, TV and college campuses. He is widely considered to be the world’s foremost Messianic Jewish apologist. He and his wife Nancy, who is also a Jewish believer in Jesus, have been married since 1976. They have two daughters and four grandchildren.
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