China Waging War on Christianity

Activists say Beijing is burning Bibles, shutting churches, forcing the faithful to renounce
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Sep 10, 2018 9:30 AM CDT
In China, Burning Bibles Is All the Rage
In this photo taken June 3, 2018, a demolished house church is seen in the city of Zhengzhou in central China's Henan province. Under President Xi Jinping, believers are seeing their freedoms shrink dramatically even as the country undergoes a religious revival.   (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan)

China's government is ratcheting up a crackdown on Christian congregations, destroying crosses, burning Bibles, shutting churches, and ordering followers to sign papers renouncing their faith, according to pastors and a group that monitors religion in China. The campaign corresponds with a drive to "Sinicize" religion by demanding loyalty to the atheist Communist Party. Bob Fu of the US-based group China Aid said that the recent closure of churches in Henan province and a prominent house church in Beijing is a "significant escalation" and that the "international community should be alarmed and outraged for this blatant violation of freedom of religion and belief." Under President Xi Jinping, believers are seeing freedoms shrink dramatically even amid a religious revival. Activists say Xi is waging the most severe suppression of Christianity since religious freedom was written into the constitution in 1982.

Fu also provided video of piles of burning Bibles and forms stating that the signatories had renounced their Christian faith. He said that marked the first time since Mao's radical 1966-1976 Cultural Revolution that Christians had been compelled to make such declarations, under pain of expulsion from school and loss of welfare benefits. Chinese law requires believers to worship only in congregations registered with the authorities, but many millions belong to so-called underground or house churches. In Beijing, the Zion church was shut on Sunday by around 60 government workers, said Ezra Jin Mingri, the church's pastor. Zion is known as the largest house church in Beijing, with six branches. The officials declared the gatherings illegal and sealed off church properties, Jin said. "Churches will continue to develop. Blocking the sites will only intensify conflicts," Jin told the AP.

(Read more China stories.)

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