President Xi Jinping and the Chinese government have launched a campaign to “sinicize” the religions of China in order to bring them all under one central ideology.
In February 2018, new laws were put in place to replace the old religious freedom laws and are being heavily enforced by the Communist Chinese government.
Here’s what these new laws mean for Christians and other religious minorities in China:
Chinese believers are seeing an unprecedented crackdown on their faith, one not seen in decades.
Not only do the new laws make it illegal to worship in a church that is not registered with the state, but the government is taking it further.
Christians are being beaten and taken to “re-education” camps to learn communist ideologies in place of their faith. Even young children are being dragged away.
Christians aren’t the only ones being persecuted.
Islamic temples have been stripped, a “campaign” has also come about to “re-educate” Muslims, children have been removed from Buddhist temples and forbade to participate in summer activities.
All religions in China are coming under attack because of President Xi’s goals.
Reportedly, earlier this spring a 5-year plan to phase out Christianity was introduced to the people, along with new rules when practicing the religion. This has since brought harassment and persecution to the church not seen in years.
Open Door USA reports this is how fellow believers in China are coming under attack:
While the distinction between government-registered and unregistered churches used to be a major factor in whether or not they were persecuted, this is no longer the case.
All Christians are slandered, which seems to support the widely held belief that the Communist Party is banking on a unified Chinese cultural identity to maintain its power.
When converts from Islam or Tibetan Buddhism are discovered by their families or communities, they are usually threatened, violently harmed and reported to local authorities.
Spouses are sometimes forced to divorce their Christian partners, and some children are taken from their Christian parents.
Public baptisms are impossible, and events such as weddings and burials involving known Christians are denied by imams and lamas.
Officially, churches have to be registered with the government to continue practicing their beliefs.
The Chinese government pushes the idea that only government endorsed churches receive God’s love, but many witnesses are claiming that the government ignores their paperwork to register.
Home churches have closed as people have hid their faith for fear of their lives. Others continue to worship in secret.
Posters and pictures of Jesus have now been replaced with pictures of President Xi.
Christians who are brave enough to still have services hold them in secret, praying the authorities don’t find out. When they have, the services have been raided and the Christians questioned endlessly about their faith.
The government has seized their Bibles.
Popular retail sites won’t even carry the Chinese translation or ship to China for fear of retaliation.
Crosses and Christian images are being burned and destroyed across the country.
Express UK reported: “Henan province has one of the largest Christian populations in China, with several million living in the region, including approximately 300,000 Catholics.”
In March, footage emerged of Communist Party officials using a crane to rip a cross off an iconic Catholic church in the Henan province.
The shocking footage shared on Twitter by one of the priests witnessing the act showed the moment when local Communist Party chiefs used a crane to remove the last cross standing on top of the Shangqiu Catholic Church South Cathedral.
Priests, pastors, and missionaries have been arrested and even put to death for continuing to spread the Gospel of Christ to the people of China.
Believers have been arrested for merely worshiping in private, owning a Bible, or being suspected of being a Christian.
Some say the Chinese government fears Christianity because of its ties to the west. The government views the spread of Christianity as a threat that Western powers and ideologies will overthrow their power. They think that it will persuade the Chinese people against the oppressive communist government.
In government-registered churches, traditional hymns are now being replaced with hymns worshiping President Xi. Cameras and AI systems are used to monitor what the congregation says and does.
CBN had this insight from a government registered church: “One pastor in Beijing not long ago was told by the government, ‘pastor we don’t mind if you continue holding your services, we just want to put this camera on your platform looking out at the audience and it’s attached to facial recognition software so that we can tell who comes to church on Sunday and who’s there and what they are doing and how involved they are,’” he said.
Despite this, the church is still growing in China. There are a reported 97,200,000 believers in China with this number increasing every day as people stand strong in their faith.
The number of believers in China is said to have doubled in the last 20 years, and China is expected to become the world’s largest Christian population.
We must hold China and our brothers and sisters in Christ in our prayers. Every day they are facing persecution as they hold strong to their love for our Father.