As China’s President Xi Jinping has consolidated his power, his government has brutally cracked down on Christianity around the country, destroying crosses, burning Bibles, and shutting down churches, according to Bob Fu of the U.S.-based group China Aid.
Fu showed the Associated Press (AP) videos that recorded piles of burning Bibles and forms allegedly signed by people saying they gave up their Christianity. Fu referred to churches that have been closed in central Henan province as well as a house church closed in Beijing, calling the actions a “significant escalation” of the government’s crackdown. He wrote, “The international community should be alarmed and outraged for this blatant violation of freedom of religion and belief.” He added that the severity of the crackdown was unmatched since Mao’s brutal 1966-1976 Cultural Revolution.
AP explained, “Chinese law requires religious believers to worship only in congregations registered with the authorities, but many millions belong to so-called underground or house churches that defy government restrictions.”
AsiaNews reported that China’s State Administration for Religious Affairs (SARA) posted a draft of new regulations on online religious activities that would “forbid the streaming of religious ceremonies (live on the internet), including prayer, preaching and even burning incense.” Christianity Today reported that a crowd-sourced translation of the draft rules included the banning of setting up religious organizations, schools, and sites and the barring of inciting minors to participate in religious activities.
On Sunday, the Zion church in Beijing, the largest house church in Beijing, was shut down; the Chaoyang district government in Beijing said the church had been closed because it hadn’t registered with the government.
AP noted, “China has an estimated 38 million Protestants, and experts have predicted that the country will have the world’s largest Christian population in a few decades.”