Christian Persecution In China

Christian Persecution In China Today

Christian Persecution In China

Christian Persecution in ChinaChristian persecution in China is re-intensifying, this time aided by big data and artificial intelligence (see 2018 update at the bottom).

Chinese Communist Party denies any Christian persecution in China, and has convinced some high profile Westerners and even missions organizations that Christian persecution in China is no more.

Does persecution of Christians persist in China today?

It is rising sharply, and the current Christian persecution in China is more sophisticated and multi-faceted than in the past, whose mainstay was brute force.

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 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 teachings still abound and pastors do not (official pastor training continues to be confined to a China's sole showcase and unbiblical seminary - Nanjing Union Theological Seminary - that annually produces only 100 graduates for China's 1,400,000,000 people).

If the pressure to join the Three Self church network is 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 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 who are favorably-disposed to Christianity tend to operate relatively unhindered, especially if their leaders have good relationships with those officials, while the Christians in regions governed by less favorably-disposed Party officials suffer raids, especially if those officials wish to line their pockets with the fines to be extracted.

Size and timing also matter: the smaller the underground church, the less likely it is to be persecuted, while clampdowns tend 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 raises a red flag, while receiving foreign funding triggers an alarm if discovered.

And as land values rise, economic corruption increasingly translates into repression against old, city-center Three Self churches, as real estate developers bribe and collude with government officials to steal their prime downtown locations.

Satan's attack on the body of Christ in the increasingly materialistic China also involves the more insidious temptation of money and heresies, including Western imports (see Christianity in China, Four Spiritual Laws, Eastern Lightning and Shouters).

What is the antidote?

Today's greatest need in China's churches is Bible teachers, including missionaries, who can exegete the Bible and teach the True Gospel. China's greatest Christian need today is also the West's.

2014 Update

Under President Xi Jinping (2013- ), the Chinese government has embarked on a 3-phase, 14-year plan to gain total control over 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.

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 9-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."

2018 Update

The brute-force, third phase of the aforementioned 14-year plan (see underground church) has begun. Over 6,000 crosses already have been burned (top) or ripped down from church buildings, many of which have been demolished (below is the January 9, 2018 dynamiting of a church in Shanxi province's Linfei city - see front view),

Christian Persecution in China

Crosses inside churches are now being required to be flanked by portraits of Mao Zedong and Xi Jingping. 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.

Christian Persecution in ChinaAnd unprecedentedly, the Chinese government has begun to use mass surveillance technology, artificial intelligence, big data, and a new "social credit system" to persecute the church.

By 2020, 600 million CCTV cameras - nearly one for every 2 Chinese citizens - will blanket China (right). They are being forcibly installed inside church buildings to record 24/7 the entrances, stairwells, offering boxes, and Bible counters. Using face recognition technology and big data, including from mobile phones and social media, the Chinese government will soon track 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.

And the Chinese government's new "social credit system" has begun to assign social credit scores to its citizens for not loitering, not jaywalking and other compliant behaviors, which eventually will include not attending "illegal" underground churches and only buying the Communism-friendly "Bible" that the Communist Party has begun to translate (see Chinese Bible and "Sinicization of Christianity"). In February of 2018, the Chinese Communist Party also drastically increased its penalties and restrictions targeted against all Christians (see underground churches).

Is Christianity in China doomed?

Persecuting Christianity is like throwing water on an oil fire; it spreads 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.