Christians in China are facing hard times due to a dicey situation presented by demands from the Communist Party of China (CPC) against proliferation of religious organizations which are considered a big threat to Xi Jinping’s government.
The government’s stand on “One China policy” calls for unbridled loyalty to the ruling party, and faith in a “nonexistent God” rather than the CPC which has the powers to transform lives, is described as “ingratitude and madness.”
Guo (not real names), a 62-year-old shopkeeper in China, regrets the ongoing persecution suffered by Christians. He spent his life savings to build a brick house with a courtyard and spacious hall which served about 200 members of his church until March 2018, when a group of police officers showed up on his property, threatening worshipers who dispersed for fear of imprisonment.
The authorities ordered Guo to pull down a portrait of the Last Supper, a cross and bible verse calligraphy from the walls. Police also ordered him to desist from holding church programme unless his members and the church building are registered with the government office.
Guo and his church members aren’t the only Christians suffering in China. Other worshipers in Henan, the country’s most religious community, have faced persecution from the officially atheist CPC, which has zero tolerance for religious beliefs and church gatherings.
‘I’ve always prayed for our country’s leaders, for our country to get stronger,’ Guo told the Associated Press.
‘They were never this severe before–not since I started going to church in the 80s,’ the church owner said. He concealed his real names for fear of retribution.
‘Why are they telling us to stop now?’ Guo asked.
President Xi has been criticized for taking desperate measures to consolidate his power and Christians are worst hit for their belief in God rather than the all-powerful Communist Party.
Although religious freedom was included in the Chinese constitution in 1982, believers are going through the most severe systematic suppression under Xi’s leadership. The Chinese government demands absolute loyalty and the crackdown has affected mosques within the country. For example, a government-backed campaign aimed at “sensitizing” thousands of Uighur Muslims included removal of Islamic crescents and domes from mosques.
Hundreds of Tibetan children have also taken away from Buddhist temples and forced to study in schools. The kids were banned from partaking in any religious activity during summer holidays, according to a state-media report.
The Chinese government is implementing a 5-year plan to “Sinicize” Christianity and there are new rules to be followed in religious matters. Hundreds of churches owned by private individuals have been shut down in recent months, worshippers are facing previously unknown harassment, and the authorities are confiscating Bibles. Major e-commerce websites like Taobao.com and JD.com no longer have such religious books on sale.
A previous report confirmed that one church was ordered to remove the posters of Jesus Christ from their wall and replace it with President Xi Jinping’s portrait.
Many Christians have resorted to holding secret church services to avoid arrests and interrogations. Pastors are also being interrogated for their faith as well as monitored for any act of defiance.
‘Chinese leaders have always been suspicious of the political challenge or threat that Christianity poses to the Communist regime,’ Xi Lian, a scholar of Christianity in China at Duke University, told the news outlet.
‘Under Xi, this fear of Western infiltration has intensified and gained a prominence that we haven’t seen for a long time.’