Iran is a large country in the Middle East but has a very small population of Christians. For Iranian Christians it is difficult to practice their religion, which has been in the country since the early days of Christianity.
Among the many facts about Iran’s Christians are:
1. Christianity has a long history in Iran. The Assyrian Church of the East established the earliest churches in the fifth century.
2. There are between 200,000 and 270,000 Christians living in modern Iran. They represent about 0.35 percent of the population of 75 million.
3. The largest Christian community in Iran today belongs to the Armenian Apostolic Church. Armenians came to Iran in the 11th century.
4. Other Iran Christians belong to the Roman Catholic, Anglican, and Protestant churches, though their numbers are small. Of these, the majority were converted by missionaries in the 17th and 18th centuries.
5. Iran’s Christians are guaranteed rights under the constitution and can take seats in the parliament. For many it is difficult to live freely though as the state operates under Islamic law.
6. Muslims who convert to Christianity in Iran face real danger and can be persecuted by the authorities.
7. Christians in Iran lived in peace and prosperity until the reign of Barham II in the late third century. Persecutions began in this time and continued through the centuries since.
8. The majority of Iran’s Christians live in urban areas such as the capital Teheran and Isfahan.
9. The oldest Armenian Christian Church in the world is in West Azerbaijan Province in northwestern Iran. Iran’s Christians still worship at the Saint Thaddeus Monastery, which is also known as The Black Church. It is believed that a church was built at the site in 8 A.D.
10. For some Iranian Christians they celebrate Christmas on Dec. 25. For the majority of Armenian Christians, they mark the day on Jan. 6.
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