ESTIMATED 72- 92 MILLION CHRISTIANS IN CHINA
OFFICIALLY AN ATHEIST COUNTRY
1.4 BILLION: POPULATION OF CHINA
FROM 2014 TO 2016, 1,500 CROSSES WERE REMOVED FROM CHURCHES IN ZHEJIANG PROVINCE
WHAT IS GOING ON?
Persecution is not new to religious groups in China. Since coming into power in 2012, President Xi Jinping has cracked down on human rights groups, freedom of expression, and religious freedom. It is believed that more than a million Uighers (a Muslim minority from Xinjiang) are bring held in political “re-education” facilities where human rights abuses are taking place. Advocacy groups also mention that the Chinese Church is going through some of the worst persecution, especially so in the past year.
In December 2018, social media platforms were filled with reports and prayer requests specifically by members of Early Rain Covenant Church, a well-known Protestant church in Chengdu city. Their pastor, Wang Yi, his wife, and more than 100 other leaders and members were arrested, detained in police stations; some beaten up by police officers, and others charged with criminal activities facing potential jail terms. Church members were blocked from going into their church building which was converted into a local government office. Students studying in the church seminary were being escorted and sent back to their hometowns where many come from non-believing families; authorities have then been convincing the families that these students have committed grave crimes, which led to more persecution from family members.
Early Rain is not the only church; other churches across the country are similarly affected with church buildings being torn down and Christian literature being destroyed.
WHY ARE THEY PERSECUTED?
According to a government white paper released in April 2018 that introduced basic policies for all religious activities and expressions in China, all religions must be Chinese in orientation be subjected to China’s socialist ideology.
Christianity is seen by the Chinese authorities to be a “foreign religion” controlled by past colonists and imperialists. As such, the government requires religious groups to register and gain official approval, but many churches refuse to do so. To register would mean joining the state-sanctioned “Three-Self Church” which is closely controlled and monitored by the government, and church leaders have condemned it to be theologically and politically corrupted. Thus, many continue to worship in unofficial underground house churches.