Crackdowns on religious freedom
The management of religious affairs in China lies with the Communist Party now, not just with the government. And Christians are intensely and increasingly feeling this shift and fear of Christian persecution. Since the Communist Party took over, the implementation of the regulations on religion, the treatment of religious groups, especially Christians, became much harsher across the country. Crackdowns against Christians happen countrywide and in both state-approved and non-registered churches. The youth are increasingly being removed from church life; worship is monitored via CCTV and spies; and teachers and medical workers are told they are not allowed to have any religious affiliation.
How Christians suffer
All churches are perceived as a threat if they become too large, too political or invite foreign guests. A policy of “sinicizing” the church is becoming increasingly influential as the Communist Party is relying strongly on Chinese cultural identity to stay in power. The new restrictions on internet, social media and NGOs—and the new regulations on religion—are all seriously limiting freedom. However, it is not only the introduction of new laws but also the stricter implementation of already existing laws.
In addition, if a convert from Islam or from Tibetan Buddhism is discovered by community and family, they are usually threatened, physically harmed and reported to the local authorities—all in an effort to win them back. Spouses may be forced to divorce, and children can be taken away from Christian parents.
Fifteen days before Christmas, one of China’s largest house churches in Chengdu was raided by Chinese police. The raid continued for days, resulting in arrests and detainments of more than 100 Christians, including Early Rain Covenant Church pastor Wang Yi. He is one of China’s most well-known pastors.
A week later, another large underground congregation, the Rongguili Church, was closed by local authorities. A few months before, 1,500-member Zion Church in Beijing was also closed because leaders refused to install security cameras.
In late 2018, the religious liberty magazine Bitter Winter reported that police stations in a city in northeast China are being evaluated based on the number of Christians they arrest.
Pray for China
Pray that the Chinese Christians who were recently arrested in raids would have courage and perseverance in the faith—include Pastor Wang Yi.Pray for the growth of believers from minority people groups that are from Muslim and Buddhist backgrounds.Pray for Chinese Christians to stand strong amidst tightening religious restrictions and to engage in cross-cultural missions effectively.Pray that the Chinese government would proactively enter into constructive dialogue with local churches, in order to understand that Christian values are aligned with traditional Chinese values and that Christianity can be a positive influence for Chinese society.
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