Church of St. George.
(photo credit: KIRBY TRAPOLINO)
Christians are currently experiencing record numbers of abuse and persecution due to a state-sponsored crackdown on dissent.
The recently released annual report from the Christian human rights organization China Aid documented 572 cases of persecution in which 17,884 religious practitioners were persecuted. This represents a 300 percent increase in abuse and persecution against Chinese Christians since 2013. Of those persecuted, 1,592 were church leaders.
The Chinese government sanctioned three rectifications and one demolition campaign, which targeted churches, claiming to eradicate illegal structures. The campaign removed crosses from churches, in many cases demolishing the entire building.
The official religion of the Chinese Communist Party is atheism, and they are known to be resistant and even hostile to those who hold other beliefs. This is a problem considering that scholars estimate that by the year 2030, Christians in China will exceed the number of Christians in the United States, thus making China the largest Christian nation in the world.
“It is fair to say that the rapid increase in the number of Christians in China over the past decade has triggered a unique sense of crisis within the CPC,” the report reads. “As the Christian faith continues to grow in China, so does the number of Chinese citizens who embrace rule of law, oppose totalitarian governance, and support the expansion of civil society.”
A government-led crackdown on so called “cult activities” has also contributed to the increase in persecution. President Xi Jinping, the authoritarian CPC leader, has implemented various “political reforms” which make such persecution legal.
As the Christian population grows in China, the government has issued various campaigns to persecute home churches and public churches in China by reportedly “harassing, abusing, arresting, and, in many cases, sentencing pastors and church members to prison. “
As a means of addressing the Catholicism and Protestantism, the CPC has attempted reform within the Three-Self Patriotic Movement (TPSM) Church in order to create “party-governed” churches. Although an estimated 70 million people currently attend TPSM churches, even these TPSM churches aren’t immune from government-backed abuse.
“The sinicization of Christianity amounts to de-Christianizing the church in China and eradicating the universal nature of Christianity under the appearance of constructing a ‘Christianity with Chinese characteristics,’ and, in the name of prioritizing the interests of the Communist Party, usurping Christian doctrine that ‘Christ is the head of Church,’” the report said.
Despite the increase in persecution, Chinese Christian communities are utilizing the rule of law to defend their freedoms and rights and expose the ongoing abuse.
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