Chinese Christians Urge Prayers as Campaign Against Churches Intensifies Across Country

( [email protected] ) Apr 13, 2018 12:48 PM EDT
Christians in China have asked the international community unite in prayer as Communist party authorities continue to intensify their campaign against churches in the country
Believers take part in a weekend mass at an underground Catholic church in Tianjin November 10, 2013. Reuters/Kim Kyung-Hoon

Christians in China have asked the international community to unite in prayer as Communist party authorities continue to intensify their campaign against churches in the country.

"The condition is deteriorating, but the obstacles tie the house churches together and direct them to God," a believer with the surname Li from a house church in Nanyang said, according to ChinaAid.

Restrictions on believers have increased in recent months following the implementation of the revised Religious Affairs Regulations. The rules, which define the administrative framework around religious activities, have the stated aim of "protect[ing] citizens' freedom of religious belief".

"Religious affairs maintenance should persist in a principle of maintaining legality, curbing illegality, blocking extremism, resisting infiltration and attacking crime," the regulations say.

"Any group or individual must not create conflict or contention between different religions, with a single religion or between religious individuals and non-religious individuals," they say.

A believer with the surname Cao told ChinaAid that in the central Henan province, officials demanded the outdoor cross of a newly constructed Three-Self Church be taken down -- even though such churches are sanctioned by the government.

Cao explained that the cross cost around $3,183.20 USD, with officials arguing that it violated regulations.

According to World Watch Monitor, authorities also forcibly removed "two or three" crosses in the county because they were "illegally built."

"Activities in the illegally-built parishes will be prohibited," he said. "Other legal Christian activities here will remain open," he said, adding that the government was targeting unregulated activities, not Christians.

Last month, a church-run kindergarten in Weihui parish was shut down by officials. A source from the state-approved Catholic Church told the Catholic news website UCAN that Tian-ai Kindergarten, run by Zhifang Church, was "disqualified." Police posted warnings on the gates of the school twice, on 14 February and 14 March, and then sealed them late last month, leaving its 60-70 pupils to find another school to go to.

"Nearby kindergartens which are run much more badly [sic] were not seized," a source told UCAN. "Only the one run by the church." "Authorities pay more attention to kindergartens run by Christians," a local source told WWM.

Last week, the Chinese government banned the sale of Bibles at online bookstores across the country, also as part of the renewed regulations.

A short time earlier, a Chinese Christian woman was arrested by public security bureau officers and criminally detained after she attempted to share the gospel with President Xi Jinping.

Xi has said he wants Chinese faith communities to move "to the direction of localizing the religion, practice the core values of socialism, develop and expand the fine Chinese tradition and actively explore the religious thought which accords with China's national circumstances."

Tags : China, China persecution of Christians, chinese christian persecution, house church