Three Pastors in Iran Facing Death Penalty

Monday, September 22, 2014

By Joseph DeCaro, Worthy News Correspondent

TEHRAN (Worthy News)-- Three pastors are facing charges that could lead to the death penalty for their involvement in Iran's underground house-church movement, according to Morning Star News.

Iranian authorities recently filed charges against Behnam Irani and Silas Rabbani -- both pastors of the Church of Iran in Karaj -- for "Mofsed-fel-arz" or "spreading corruption on [the] Earth." Prior to these charges, the Revolutionary Tribunal had charged Abdolreza Ali-Haghnejad -- another leader of the Church of Iran -- with "Moharebeh" or "warring against God," but the court later changed the charge to "spreading corruption on [the] Earth."

While "warring against God" and "spreading corruption on [the] Earth" can both carry the death penalty, the legal requirements for a conviction of the latter are less demanding.

In Iran, "warring against God" has been a capital offense often used against political opponents, or dissident members of ethnic minorities. Hashem Shabaninejad -- an Arab-Iranian poet and human rights activist -- was hanged on Jan. 25 after being found guilty of "spreading corruption on [the] Earth" and "warring against God" for simply speaking out against the maltreatment of Iranian Arabs in Khuzestan Province.

So far this year, Iran has executed 12 people for allegedly "warring against God" and two for "spreading corruption on [the] Earth."