An Iranian Christian convert, who is serving a six-year prison sentence, has received 80 lashes for drinking communion wine. He is the second convert to receive such a punishment in just over a month.
Zaman Fadaee (who goes by the name Saheb) was flogged on Sunday in connection to a 2016 conviction for drinking wine as part of communion.
In Iran, it is illegal for Muslims to drink alcohol but the practice is permitted for religious minorities. However, advocates warn that Iran does not recognize former Muslim converts as Christian.
Fadaee is serving a six-year sentence, Article 18, a London-based nonprofit reported. Article 18 works to expose abuses against Christians in Iran.
Fadaee was arrested with Pastor Yousef Nadarkhani and four other members of Yousef’s church in May 2016. In September, Fadaee and two other converts were sentenced to 80 lashes for drinking communion wine.
In October, Youhan Omidi received his lashes.
“Deeply disturbed by reports Iran lashed Mohammad Reza Omidi 80 times for drinking communion wine,” State Department spokesperson Morgan Ortagus wrote on Twitter at the time. “He already served two years in prison for belonging to a house church. We condemn these unjust punishments and urge Iran to allow all Iranians the freedom to practice their beliefs.”
Fadaee is serving his six-year sentence in Tehran’s Evin Prison for organizing house churches and “promoting ‘Zionist’ Christianity.”
The men were originally ordered to 10 years in prison, but during a retrial, the sentences were reduced.
Omidi’s sentence was reduced to two years and he was released in August.
Another man, Yasser Mossayebzadeh is also expected to receive 80 lashes.
“It had been assumed that both Saheb and Yasser would be flogged after their release from prison, as happened in Youhan’s case,” the Article 18 report states. “However, Saheb was summoned to the Shahid Moghadas Revolutionary Court next to Evin Prison yesterday, and told his sentence must be carried out then and there.”
Open Doors reports that at least 169 Christians have been arrested in Iran from Nov. 1, 2018 to Oct. 31, 2019.
The people of Iran are disillusioned with Islam and they are looking for answers to life. They are not finding answers in the traditional forms of state religion or the faith of their ancestors. They are looking for new answers, they are not happy and satisfied where they are spiritually. A large number of these people are actually having dreams and visions about a shining man dressed in white far before we are out there telling them about Jesus.
Iran ranks 9th on Christian support organization Open Doors 2020 World Watch list of the 50 countries where it is most difficult to be a Christian, but this does not stop the rate at which Jesus Christ is winning the heart of the people unto Himself.