One Nation Under Xi? This is why Christian Persecution in China is Escalating
- The United States Commission on
International Religious Freedom
says Christians in China
are facing an alarmingescalation of persecution.
This week Public SecurityBureau Police invaded
and shut Zion Church in Beijing.
Moments before thatraid, this sign appeared
just outside the church sanctuary.
Now it looks like this.
PSB agents removed the sign.
No church here.
Members of Zion Church were not deterred.
Although authoritiesclosed their building,
they continued to pray andworship outside in the street.
Also this summer otherChristians throughout China
have seen their churchesclosed or demolished.
Government officials havearrested church leaders.
They've confiscated and burned Bibles.
And they're still removing crosses
from atop church buildings.
What in the world is goingon in China and why now?
Well here to provide some insights
is Voice Of The Martyrs radio host
and spokesman Todd Middleton.
So Todd is this somethingnew or more of the same?
- Well we are seeing more persecution
or a higher level of persecution.
There's a couple of developments
that have happened this year
that I think contribute to that.
One of those is inFebruary new regulations
on religious affairs tookeffect all across China.
And so we're seeing those regulations
now being put into effect and enforced.
We're seeing how that's being translated
from the national government,down to the provincial level
and then to the local level
and how that's effecting churches.
Another thing thateffects this is the fact
that in March, ChinesePresident Xi Jenping
was essentially given a lifetime contract.
He was renewed his presidency and was told
that term limits areno longer apply to you.
So he can essentially serve as President
for as long as he wantsand one of his emphasis,
even going back to his daysas a provincial leader,
was on controlling religious expression
and controlling thechurch and so we're seeing
that what he put into effectas a providential leader
now that he's the presidentof the entire country,
that same emphasis is spreading
from the national government level
down to every part of China.
- Why is it happening now?
- Well our Christianbothers and sisters in China
are telling us that thisis the worst persecution
they've seen, even going backto the cultural revolution
and what's happeningis that the government
at the national levelis trying to exert more
and more control overreligious expression.
What we've seen in thelast number of months
is the government will come into a church
and say, hey why don't you take down
that picture of Jesus your sanctuary
and put up thesepatriotic posters instead.
Why don't you not sing hymnsto start out your service?
Why don't you sing some patriotic songs
about the wonderfulnessof the communist party?
One pastor in Beijing not long ago,
was told by the government,they said pastor
we don't mind if you continueholding your services,
we just want to put thiscamera on your platform
looking out at the audience
and it's attached tofacial recognition software
so that we can tell whocomes to church on Sunday
and who's there and what they're doing
and how involved they are.
The pastor obviously said,
no we're not gonna allow you to do that
and just last weekendthat church was shutdown.
Officials came to the service,they said no, you are closed,
You cannot meet anymore.
Basically the nationalgovernment is making
more and more effortto control every facet
of religious expression in China
and this is not only effecting Christians.
There are tens of thousands of Muslims
in Western China that have been detained
and they're also seeking to control
religions expression by Muslims as well.
- What impact is thislikely to have on the church
and Christianity in China?
- The larger gatheringsmay stop for a while.
Maybe put on hold and we will see
more and more smaller gatherings.
One of the challenges forthe church in that situation
is, okay, if we're notmeeting in one group of 400,
but we're meeting in lotsof groups of 12 to 20,
we need a lot of group leaders.
We need leadership that is trained
and ready to lead those groups
and so leadership development
becomes a high priority in that situation.
- What can our viewers do about it?
- You now the first thing that we can do
is pray for the church in China,
pray for our brothers and sisters there
as they go through this time of trial,
and not long ago, on our VoiceTo the Martyrs radio podcast
we had a guest, one of ourworkers, who's very involved
with the church in China, and I asked him
how we could pray, andhe gave what I think
is a very insightful prayer request.
He said, "Pray especiallyfor the young people
who are part of the church in China,"
because they've never faced this before.
They've never been through this.
Their parents and their grandparents
have gone through persecution,they've see how God sustains
and God empowers and protectsduring times of trial
and times of suffering,
but these young people within the church,
they haven't' been throughit, they haven't see that
and so naturally like many of us,
they're intimidated,they're a little frightened,
by how are we gonna deal withthis level of persecution
that we're facing and sosecondly we can have a voice,
and we can have a voice toour own government officials.
A lot of the conversationbetween the US Government
and the Chinese Governmentright now is about trade,
but we need to make sure thatour government officials here
know that we vote and that wecare about religious freedom,
that they should use their influence
and we expect them to use their influence.
Okay, Todd Middleton ofthe Voice of the Martyrs,
thank you for joining us.
Thank you Gary.