Four Iranian Christians have been sentenced to each receive 80 lashes because they drank wine in a communion service. The four men have ten days to appeal the verdict.
The men were arrested December 6, 2012 at a house church and charged with consuming alcohol…. Iran bans alcohol for their Muslim citizens, but non-Muslim citizens are allowed to brew their own alcohol. However, it is a crime to convert from Islam to Christianity and it can be punished with the death penalty.
While the severity of this sentence is shocking, this incident is but one of many cases of religious persecution in Iran. According to a UN report:
“Authorities continue to compel licensed Protestant churches to restrict Persian-speaking and Muslim-born Iranians from participating in services, and raids and forced closures of house churches are ongoing…More than 300 Christians have been arrested since 2010, and dozens of church leaders and active community members have reportedly been convicted of national security crimes in connection with church activities, such as organizing prayer groups, proselytizing and attending Christian seminars abroad.”