Christians face whipping for drinking communion wine
Men arrested in crackdown on church service in Iran
- Catholic News Agency
- October 29, 2013
Four Iranian Christians were sentenced last week to 80 lashes each for drinking communion wine during a communion service at a house church.
The four men were charged in court with drinking alcohol and possessing a receiver and satellite antenna in Rasht, a city 200 miles northwest of Tehran, on Oct. 6. The verdict was delivered to the men Oct. 20, and they have been given ten days to appeal the sentence, the group Christian Solidarity Worldwide reports.
Iran is an Islamic Republic, and Islam forbids the consumption of alcohol. Non-Muslims account for less than one percent of Iran's population.
The charged men are members of the Church of Iran, a Protestant ecclesial community. Two of the men were arrested Dec. 31, 2012, during the government’s crackdown on house churches.
Mervyn Thomas, head of Christian Solidarity Worldwide, criticized the sentence.
“The sentences handed down to these members of the Church of Iran effectively criminalize the Christian sacrament of sharing in the Lord’s Supper and constitute an unacceptable infringement on the right to practice faith freely and peaceably,” he said Oct. 23.
He urged the Iranian authorities to ensure Iran’s laws do not violate the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which Iran is a signatory. He said the government should guarantee “the full enjoyment of freedom of religion or belief by all its religious communities.”
Source: Catholic News Agency