Christian Persecution In China

The Persecution of Christian In China Today

Christian Persecution In China

Christian Persecution in ChinaThe persecution of Christians in China by the Chinese Communist Party is rising sharply, and today's big data and artificial intelligence-enabled Christian persecution in China (see update at the bottom and missions organizations) is far more sophisticated and comprehensive than any past Christian persecution in China.

Until the 1990s, when the Chinese government discovered an underground church, its members were beaten or fined while their leaders were arrested, tortured, sent to labor camps, killed, or simply disappeared. The government also restricted the availability of Bibles (see Amity printing and Project Pearl).

Under President Hu Jintao (2003-2013), the Chinese government softened its approach. Discovered underground churches were "invited" to join the government-controlled Three Self church network, where unbiblical teaching still abounds but pastors do not (official pastor training remains restricted to China's sole heretical show seminary - Nanjing Union Theological Seminary - that annually produces only 100 graduates for China's 1.4 billion people). If the pressure to join the Three Self church network was resisted, the underground church Christians in some regions of China were left alone, while those in other regions were threatened with job loss, placed under house arrest or fined.

Why were the Christians in some regions spared persecution?

While Western democracies have democratically-crafted laws that apply to everyone, Communist China has autocratically-imposed laws that are applied selectively based on the people and the relationships involved. Underground churches in regions governed by Party officials favorably-disposed to Christianity tended to operate relatively unhindered, especially if their leaders had good relationships with those officials, while the Christians in regions governed by less favorably-disposed Party officials suffered raids, especially if those officials wished to line their pockets with the fines to be extracted.

Size and timing also mattered: the smaller the underground church, the less likely it was to be persecuted, while clampdowns tended to accompany major events (e.g., 2008 Beijing Olympics) and international developments (e.g., Arab Spring). The presence of a foreigner in an underground church raised a red flag, while receiving foreign funding triggered an alarm if discovered.

And as China's economy boomed and land values rose, real estate developers bribed and colluded with government officials to steal the prime real estate of old, city-center Three Self churches, and the the body of Christ faced the more insidious temptation of money and heresies, including Western imports (see Christianity in China, Four Spiritual Laws, Eastern Lightning and Shouters).

Under President Xi Jinping (2013- ), the Chinese government embarked on a 3-phase, 14-year plan to gain total control of Christianity in China (see underground church).

In 2014, its religious bureau chief made the following deceptive and ominous declaration:

"Over the past decades, the Protestant churches in China have developed very quickly with the implementation of the country’s religious policy. The construction of Chinese Christian theology should adapt to China’s national condition and integrate with Chinese culture." - Wang Zuoan, Director of State Administration for Religious Affairs (SARA), to China Daily on August 9, 2014.

Of course, the body of Christ in China grew by the work of the Holy Spirit despite - not due to - the Chinese government's "religious policy," and Christian theology that adapts to a nation's "condition" and integrates its culture is no longer Christian.

Also 2014, a nine page internal Chinese Communist Party memo that was not supposed to be seen by the public instructed cracking down on the "overly popular" religion of Christianity and instructed:

"The priority is to remove crosses at religious activity sites on both sides of expressways, national highways and provincial highways. Over time and in batches, bring down the crosses from the rooftops to the facade of the buildings... Be particular about tactics, be careful about methods... Use the idea of 'illegal construction.' This is crucial to investigate and prosecute from the perspective of laws and regulations to avoid inviting heavy criticism."

2019 Update

The mask has come off in the third phase of the 14-year plan (see underground church), now under way. Thousands of crosses already have been burned (top) or ripped down from church buildings, increasing numbers of which are being closed and/or demolished (below is the January 9, 2018 dynamiting of a church in Shanxi province's Linfei city (front view).

Christian Persecution in China

Inside the church buildings that remain open for now, crosses are being taken down or flanked by portraits of Mao Zedong and Xi Jingping, and singing songs that praise the Chinese Communist Party is being required before singing hymns. Pastors are being required to sign statements pledging to obey instructions from the Chinese government. Thousands of pastors already have been arrested, beaten, tortured, sentenced to years in prison, or simply disappearing (see Wang Yi).

Taking a page out of its playbook from the days of Cultural Revolution (1966-76), the Chinese government is again teaching school children that Christianity is an evil cult that spreads spiritual opium that they must not take and also warn and protect their parents from taking. The veiled threat to their parents is that their children will soon be instructed to report parents who believe in Jesus, let alone tell their children to believe in Jesus.

Mass Surveillance

Christian Persecution in ChinaThe Chinese government is now using mass surveillance technology, artificial intelligence, and big data to surveil all of its citizens 24/7.

600,000,000 face recognition-enable CCTV  cameras (right) - nearly one for every 2 Chinese - will soon record all public space in China. Every inch of every street in Beijing is already covered. These cameras also are being forcibly installed inside church buildings, including over their doors, offering boxes, and Bible-selling counters.

To counter people who cover their faces with face masks, sunglasses, motorcycle helmets, etc., these cameras are now being hooked up to gait-recognition software that can identify someone from 50 meters away by analyzing thousands of metrics on how he or she walks.

All communication and activity on mobile phones, social media, and the internet is being recorded. Anyone applying for a new mobile or internet subscription must have their face scanned, and other biometric data, including fingerprints, DNA and blood samples also are being collected. In certain regions of China, for example, a DNA swab of the mouth is required to check into a hotel room. The Chinese government is now tracking virtually every social movement and behavior of all of its citizens (watch the video below), including who attends church, buys Bibles, and where those Bibles are taken.

Totalitarian Control

The Chinese government is coupling this Orwellian mass surveillance with a totalitarian "social credit system" that scores and controls the behavior and the speech of its citizens. Every Chinese citizen is assigned a social credit score that rises and falls with behaviors the government deems good and bad, respectively. For example, donating money to a charity the government has approved or donating blood raises the score, while spreading a rumor or jaywalking lowers it. People with high scores get lower interest rate bank loans and discounted utility bills, while those with low scores are forbidden from getting loans, getting train or flight tickets, and enrolling their children in certain schools.

In the (near) future, believing or spreading the "spiritual opium" of Christianity, attending "illegal" underground churches, and buying or owning a Bible other than the Communism-friendly "Bible" that the Communist Party is currently writing (see Chinese Bible and "Sinicization of Christianity") are expected to be added as major score-lowering offenses to this system, whose penal code is also expected to expand to include prison terms.

Is Christianity in China doomed?

Persecuting Christianity is like throwing water on an oil fire; it spreads and expands the fire. The intensifying persecution will purify the church in China, cut the current crossover traffic between the Three Self church and the underground church, drive true Christians into the latter, reduce the freedom of foreign missionaries, and may provide renewed impetus for smuggling Bibles into and clandestine Bible printing inside China. The body of Christ must rise up again both inside and outside China to confront this new round of thrashing about by Satan, whom Jesus crushed on the cross of Calvary.