What Is Happening to the Chinese Church?

It is no secret that persecution of Christians in China–to varying degrees–has been taking place for decades. Since 1999, China has been included on the State Department’s annual International Religious Freedom report as a country of concern.

But since President Xi took office in 2013, religious persecution has sharply increased, growing to a fevered pitch in recent days under his belligerent, anti-Christian, pro-Communist leadership. And while the world has been watching events unfold in places around the world like North Korea and the U.S.-Mexican border, China has quietly-yet-steadily been tightening its grip on the limited religious freedoms within its borders.

Zion Church is Closed

Currently, as many as 35 million of China’s 58 million Christians meet to worship in house churches as opposed to public church buildings. This threatens Chinese government officials’ ability to regulate what is being taught and has caused officials to retaliate against churches who will not submit to government regulations.

One of the most notable events in recent news came earlier this month when officials stormed Zion Church–one of the largest house churches in Beijing–and shut it down for failing to install surveillance cameras that would have allowed Chinese government officials to monitor all services and activities.

But this event is only one of many recent examples of how China is cracking down on Christianity.

According to ChinaAid Founder and President Dr. Bob Fu, “The massive clampdown against thousands of churches in Henan and the forced closure and total shutdown of the largest house church in Beiijing, Zion Church, represents a significant escalation on President Xi’s crackdown against religious freedom in China.”

He continued, “Now that the Chinese Communist Party has started to burn Bibles and coerce millions of believers in the Christian faith and other religious minorities to even sign a written pledge to renounce their basic religious beliefs, the international community should be alarmed and outraged at this blatant violation of freedom of religion and belief and demand the Chinese regime stop and remedy this dangerous course.”

Bibles are Banned

Not only are churches being heavily monitored–and many are being shut down altogether–but in April, online retailers were banned from selling Bibles. Currently, steps are being taken to produce a Chinese Bible that conforms to the specific dictates of the current Chinese government leadership.

Additionally, some churches have been forced to remove any displays of the Cross or the Christmas tree and replace it with photos of President Xi or the Chinese flag.

Some congregations are being told they can only sing songs that praise the Communist Party of China.

Some churches that have been labeled as particularly uncontrollable have faced even harsher, more violent behavior from Chinese leadership, unprecedented in this decade. Pastors have been arrested mid-service and church members have lost their jobs or homes without warning or provocation.

Christian Leaders Respond

On August 30, nearly 350 Chinese pastors and Christian leaders made a courageous, public joint statement in response to the growing tension between the government and the Christian community. Many see this time in Chinese history as a pivotal moment for church and state relations.

The joint statement began with these words–

“We are a group of Chinese Christians, chosen by the Most High God to be His humble servants, serving as pastors for Christian churches throughout various towns and cities.”

The statement went on to discuss how “churches across China have suffered varying degrees of persecution, contempt, and misunderstanding from government departments during public worship and religious practices, including various administrative measures that attempt to alter and distort the Christian faith.”

The joint statement from the 350 Chinese pastors and leaders included 4 public declarations. Perhaps most profound was #2 which reads–

“Christian churches in China are eager and determined to walk the path of the cross of Christ and are more than willing to imitate the older generation of saints who suffered and were martyred for their faith.”

The statement went on to explain that the declarations do not stem from hostility–only a desire to be true to the demands of the Gospel.

As Christians living in the West, we must be aware of what our brothers and sisters in China are experiencing, and we must pray. The reality is that 215 million Christians currently experience a high level of persecution for their faith, according to the World Watch List. Meaning 1 in 12 Christians will worship God this week and face persecution for doing so.

~ Christian Patriot Daily


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