Christian Persecution Jan/Feb 2018

CHINA—The Chinese government has begun a renewed crackdown on believers attending unregistered churches and Christian parents taking their children with them to church. Chinese law strictly forbids adults to teach children religion and restricts Christian worship to the state-sanctioned Three-Self Church.

ChinaAid, an international Christian human rights organization promoting religious freedom in China, reported that police officers in Guandong Province in southern China recently visited the homes of local believers attending an unregistered church to warn them not to attend worship services and summon them for questioning.

“The police called me again today and ordered me to stay away from church gatherings,” one Christian reported. “People from the sub-district office went to take pictures of our two church buildings, using inspecting the fire systems as an excuse. People from the religious affairs bureau also called and summoned me for a talk.”

ChinaAid said Chinese officials often use such excuses to raid churches: “The government often uses excuses in order to investigate churches, such as alleging that they need to perform fire-safety checks, and it is likely the government’s so-called suspicions are actually just ruses used in order to sanction the baseless persecution of Christians.”

According to ChinaAid, government officials in Zhejiang Province in eastern China recently prohibited children from attending church services, ordered churches to cancel all activities involving teenagers, and forbade parents to allow their children to attend Sunday services and church events.

ChinaAid reported that Chinese officials inconsistently enforce the law forbidding adults to teach religion to children and that the nation’s constitution does not restrict children from attending church. Article 36 of China’s Constitution stipulates all Chinese citizens have freedom of belief, and its regulations on religious affairs do not forbid children from attending worship services.

The crackdown came in the wake of a recent order from the Henan Provincial Three-Self Patriotic Committee and the Henan Provincial China Christian Council forbidding churches from organizing summer camps for minors and students, citing high temperatures as a possible health risk.

But a Christian in Henan said such camps were permitted in previous years. “The government is trying to control ideology,” a local Christian named Zang told ChinaAid. “During [Chinese presidents] Jiang Zemin and Hu Jintao’s time, the government was tolerant toward preaching and missionary work. After Xi Jinping came into power, the government’s grip on religion has strengthened.”

The Nanyang Municipal Religious Affairs Bureau in Henan recently ordered all 20,000 members of house churches in the province to join the state-sponsored Three-Self Church, but many believers refused to compromise their convictions by joining it because of the church’s theology and rampant government censorship.

In Hubei Province, house church members who refused to join the Three-Self Church were beaten by government-hired thugs, reported ChinaAid. The believers were meeting outside after the government had confiscated the church’s chairs and desks when the thugs attacked five or six of them. Previously, they had “shot firecrackers at the Christians, hurled mud at them, and beaten a woman with high blood pressure unconscious, continuing to kick her even after she fainted,” ChinaAid reported.

China ranks 39th on Open Doors’ 2017 World Watch List of the 50 countries where Christians experience the worst persecution.

by Morning Star News
To read the full report, go to Morningstarnews.org.

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