The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) is increasingly clamping down on Christians. New regulations in February 2020 gave it control over almost every aspect of religious life. The measures state that religious organisations must submit to the leadership of the CCP and spread its “socialist policies”. Sophisticated electronic surveillance and the removal of social welfare benefits from vulnerable Christians who refuse to renounce their faith are amongst its latest tools for persecuting believers.
Since 2018, there has been an intensification of government action against unofficial congregations, known as “house churches”, and official state-registered churches, called three-self churches. Christians in China are thought to number at least 150 million and increasing fast.
The intensity of the persecution varies across the vast country, but many house churches have been forcibly closed, some even demolished, and leaders and members arrested and imprisoned. Authorities have removed crosses from churches, and ordered that portraits of, or quotes by, President Xi Jinping replace Biblical paintings and verses. In some provinces children are barred from attending church.
During Covid-19 lockdown, Christians were prevented from accessing livestreamed church services; certain churches were banned from using WeChat, the main Chinese messaging app, to communicate together. After lockdown some churches were only allowed to re-open if the pastor preached sermons extolling President Xi for leading people “in defeating the epidemic”.
Cash rewards are given to individuals who inform on house church activities, with the highest sums given for informing on foreign pastors.
In 2018, the government announced a plan to “sinicise” (make Chinese) Christianity and interpret Scriptures according to secular socialist views.
The CCP’s campaign against non-atheist minorities, particularly Uighurs, has interned tens of thousands in harsh “re-education” camps with 24-hour close surveillance and even forced medication.
Pray for courage and resilience for Christians in China that they may stand steadfast in their faith. Pray that the authorities will see Christians as a force for good and harmony in society.
The above content can also be found in the Praying for the Persecuted Church (2021-2022) booklet