Christian Persecution In China
Christian Persecution In China Today
Christian Persecution In China
Christian persecution in China is rising again.
The Chinese Communist Party denies any Christian persecution in China, let alone its rise, and has convinced several high profile Western Christian leaders and groups to see its way.
Does the persecution of Christians persist in China today?
Christian persecution does persist in China, but the current persecution of Christians in China is more sophisticated and multi-dimensional than in the past, whose mainstay was brute force.
When China's government discovered an Underground Church in the past, persecution included its members being beaten and fined while their leaders were tortured, sent to labor camps, killed or simply disappeared.
Today, such discoveries more commonly lead to pressure for the underground church to join the government-controlled Three Self church network, where unbiblical teachings abound and pastors do not; in an effort to further stifle Christianity, the Chinese government restricts pastor training to a single showcase, exceedingly liberal seminary - Nanjing Union Theological Seminary - that annually graduates only 70 pastors: one for every 20 million of China's 1.4 billion people.
If the pressure to join the Three Self church network is resisted, Christians in the underground churches in some regions of China are simply left alone, while those in other regions are threatened with the loss of job or school enrollment, placed under house arrest and/or fined.
Why do the Christians in only some regions still face persecution?
While Western democracies have democratically-crafted laws that apply to everyone, Communist China has autocratically-imposed laws that are applied selectively based on the people and the relationships involved.
Underground churches in regions governed by Chinese Communist Party officials who are favorably-disposed to Christianity tend to operate relatively unhindered today, especially if their leaders have good relationships with those officials, while those in regions governed by less favorably-disposed officials still suffer raids, especially if those officials wish to line their pockets with the fines to be extracted.
Size and timing also matter: the smaller the underground church, the less likely it is to be persecuted, while clampdowns tend to accompany major events (e.g., 2008 Beijing Olympics) and international developments (e.g., Arab Spring - see Spread of Islam). The presence of foreigners in underground churches also tends to bring heightened surveillance, while receiving foreign funding is considered a red flag that triggers government intervention.
It should be noted that as land values rise, economic corruption is increasingly translating in repression against city-center Three Self church congregations, as real estate developers bribe and collude with government officials to steal their prime downtown locations.
On the whole, the main thrust of Satan's attack on the body of Christ in China has shifted away from brute force to the more insidious temptation of compromise, money and heresy (see Four Spiritual Laws). Rather than the euphemistically named Public Security Bureau kicking down doors, the bigger threats to the church in today's increasingly materialistic China is the lure of wealth & prosperity and other false gospel, much of it imported from the West.
What is the antidote?
Today's greatest need in China's churches are Bible teachers who can exegete the Bible and teach the True Gospel: sin, hell, repentance, Christ's atoning death and resurrection, salvation and sanctification. China's greatest Christian need today is also the West's.
2014 Update: The Chinese government has made the following announcement:
"Over the past decades, the Protestant churches in China have developed very quickly with the implementation of the country’s religious policy. The construction of Chinese Christian theology should adapt to China’s national condition and integrate with Chinese culture." - Wang Zuoan, Director of State Administration for Religious Affairs (SARA), to China Daily on August 9, 2014
For one, the body of Christ in China grew by the work of the Holy Spirit despite - not due to - the country's religious policy. For another, Christian theology that adapts to a nation's condition and culture would cease to be Christian.
And a 9-page internal Chinese Communist Party memo that was not supposed to be seen by the public declared a crackdown on the "overly popular" religion of Christianity and instructed:
"The priority is to remove crosses at religious activity sites on both sides of expressways, national highways and provincial highways. Over time and in batches, bring down the crosses from the rooftops to the facade of the buildings... Be particular about tactics, be careful about methods... Use the idea of 'illegal construction.' This is crucial to investigate and prosecute from the perspective of laws and regulations to avoid inviting heavy criticism."
Related: The current state of the Chinese Underground Church.
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