china-flag

It may be a new world of instant communications, abundant travel choices and increasing global awareness, but China still is hotly pursuing its last-century agenda of cracking down on Christians, according to a new report.

China Aid’s “China’s Religious Persecution Report (2015-2016)” concludes the nation is “regress[ing] into a more Maoist regime” and is cracking down more on faith, even to the point of attacking its own state-run church network, the Three-Self Church.

“China continuously violates its own laws and international statutes safeguarding religious freedom in favor of promoting a socialist agenda, forcing religious devotees to choose between certain persecution and disregarding their deeply held beliefs,” the report says.

China Aid is an international nonprofit Christian human rights group that promotes religious freedom and the rule of law in China. It pursues religious freedom as the first freedom, “which lays the foundation for all other basic human rights.”

Its new report also notes the communist regime’s persecution of Tibetan Buddhists and Uyghur Muslims but focuses on Christians in China.

“In the highest profile case of Christian persecution since the Cultural Revolution, China ousted Gu Yuese, chairman of the Hangzhou branch of the China Christian Council, from his position as the head pastor of China’s largest Three-Self Church on January 18,” the report says.

Paul Marshall, Lela Gilbert and Nina Shea have collaborated to create “Persecuted: The Global Assault on Christians,” which confirms that groups like Pew Research, Newsweek and The Economist also identify Christians as “the world’s most widely persecuted religious group.”

The Three-Self Church is comprised of congregations officially sanctioned by the government.

“Later that month, Gu was arrested on a falsified ’embezzling 10 million Yuan (U.S. $1.6 million) in funds,'” although many Christians believe authorities incarcerated him for his opposition to the cross demolition campaign. On April 1, he was released and placed under ‘residential surveillance,'” the report says..

“His case demonstrates the rampant spread of religious persecution as China clamps down on both house and state-run churches,” it says.

The report recently was presented to the European Union Parliament, China Aid said.

China’s president, Xi Jinping, believes religion “must conform to and benefit a socialist society.”

He urged his administration to “merge religious doctrines with Chinese culture, abide by Chinese laws and regulations, and devote themselves to China’s reform and opening up drive and socialist modernization in order to contribute to the realization of the Chinese dream of national rejuvenation.”

China currently has a campaigns to remove Christian crosses from church buildings. An estimated 1,800 already have been eliminated, the report says.

“Persecution campaigns made 2016 one of the most tyrannical years since the Cultural Revolution,” the report says.

China Aid reports a 175 percent increase in abuse cases, a 91 percent increase in the number of abused people, an 11 percent hike in religious persecution cases and an increase of 6 percent in the number of unjustly detained victims.

Even lawyers who comply with China’s laws and try to advocate for religious rights now are being targeted.

Among the developments: Rights activist Zhai Yanmin was given a three-year suspended term and Beijing church elder Hu Shigen was given seven-and-a-half-years’ incarceration and five years’ deprivation of political rights for allegedly disseminating “subversive” thoughts and ideas in Christianity.

Zhou Shifeng, a Christian attorney, was arrested on suspicion of “subverting state power,” the report says.

“Authorities pressured Zhang Kai, a human rights lawyer known for his defense of more than 100 churches affected by the cross demolition campaign, to travel from his home in Inner Mongolia, attend the trial and conduct an interview in which he denounced Zhou and the other imprisoned human rights lawyers,” the report says. Then “Zhang later recanted his statements, saying he had been too frightened to stand up to the authorities. Consequentially, officials barred him from social media and attempted to arrest him again.”

Another Christian lawyer, Li Heping, “vanished” when police took him into custody, the report said.

Other government efforts include:

  • A plan to bring “illegal” Catholic and Protestant churches into alignment with the Communist Party’s manifesto.
  • Orders that members of home churches must become part of the state’s government-linked church network.
  • More prison terms and fines for Christian leaders.
  • A ban on religious training abroad.
  • A ban on giving religious instruction to minors.
  • More police raids on churches.

Paul Marshall, Lela Gilbert and Nina Shea have collaborated to create “Persecuted: The Global Assault on Christians,” which confirms that groups like Pew Research, Newsweek and The Economist also identify Christians as “the world’s most widely persecuted religious group.”

 

 

Note: Read our discussion guidelines before commenting.