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Chinese Church Refuses to Pledge Loyalty To Communist Gov't Despite New Laws: 'Jesus Christ is My Only Belief'

( [email protected] ) Oct 10, 2016 12:50 PM EDT
Christians in China have said they will refuse to pledge loyalty to the Communist Party as President Xi Jinping prepares to launch a nationwide crackdown on Christianity.
PHOTO: People pray at a small Protestant underground church that operates in a shopfront in Beijing
Wayne Mcallister, ABC News

Christians in China have said they will refuse to pledge loyalty to the Communist Party as President Xi Jinping prepares to launch a crackdown on believers across the country.

As earlier reported, Xi has warned that all religions now have to become "Chinese", and this month enacted new laws attempting to bring churchgoers and their leaders under party control.

The laws, while placing a strong emphasis on state security and terrorism, include prohibitions on "organizing citizens to attend religious trainings, conferences and activities abroad," "preaching, organizing religious activities, and establishing religious institutions or religious sites at schools," and "providing religious services through the internet."

Officials in China have always viewed Christianity as a western tool that aims to infiltrate China. Thus, the articles also warn against the influence of foreign powers, imposing restrictions on "accepting teaching posts in foreign countries" and "organizing religious activities in unapproved religious sites."

However, members of an underground church in Beijing have said they will refuse to pledge loyalty to the Communist Party - whatever the cost may be.

"Jesus Christ is my only belief, my only loyalty is to Jesus Christ," Pastor Wang Zeqing, who leads the 50-member church, told ABC News.

"God says you should love your enemies, if they are hungry give them food to eat if they are thirsty give them water to drink, so we will pray for the non-believers. Let the spirit of Jesus move them and conquer them."

The pastor, who has been arrested for his faith before, says the new laws will be the congregation's greatest challenge, but that their faith will not falter.

"A person who truly believes in Jesus Christ will not lose their faith or become weak due the changing environment," he told the outlet.

Another member of the church prayed for God's protection for the days ahead: "Dear Lord we face harassment from the pagans, the new regulations may destroy our churches, the leaders of our country lack knowledge of God. Lord please protect and real churches and eliminate the pagans," he prayed.

Since the establishment of the country's religious policy in the 1990s, China's communist government has expressed fear that hostile foreign forces can use religions to "infiltrate Chinese society by winning over the population and subverting party rule". Consequently, it has banned foreign missionary work, refused to acknowledge any appointment by foreign religious entities such as the Vatican, and declared any unregistered religious groups, such as underground churches, illegal.

The country's leadership has also expressed discomfort with the large amount of believers in China: There are 67 million to 100 million Christians in the country - compared with 87 million Communist Party cadres.

In the past two years, authorities have torn down nearly 2,000 crosses and in some cases demolished churches. Hundreds of church leaders and their followers have been arrested and imprisoned.

Despite such ongoing persecution, pastor Xu Yong Hai, 30, told ABC News he remains optimistic, explaining that the Communist party has tried to destroy the church before and failed.

"We may change location and times, we will not stop, we will be strong," he said, explaining that the new laws would only succeed in pushing the church further underground and strengthen the faith of believers across the country.

Tags : President Xi Jinping, Chinese Church, Communism, Communist Party, China