Authorities in China continue to enforce new laws and regulations to tighten government control over the nation. The net is being cast wide and far. Not only are churches persecuted. Schools and universities, are also targeted. The government wants these institutions to fully embrace and teach atheism.
Chinaaid reports that universities in two provinces are investigating which teachers and students are not members of the Communist Party. Teachers and administration staff are reminded that they are prohibited from believing in a religion. In many places schools, including kindergartens, are required to teach students materialism and atheism, organise exhibitions, and make students and faculty members watch movies in order to teach them [Communist] Party-approved morals.
Students beginning their studies in 2018 at a university in another city are told to “guard against illegal preaching and the corrosion of harmful cultures, establish correct worldviews, life outlooks, and values, and prevent religious infiltration.” The university asked its students “not participate in the so-called house churches and private Bible study sessions, or accept funds from unknown organizations.”
The government’s pressure against the churches is palpable. A church in Chengdu, the large Early Rain Reformed Church pastored by Rev Wang Yi, is an example. Rev Yi has considerable international recognition. He has been to the United Nations to discuss the plight of Christians in China. Wang Yi and several Chinese human rights attorneys met with President George W. Bush at the White House in 2006 to discuss religious freedom in China. The Early Rain Reformed Church openly criticizes the Chinese government for persecuting Christians and placing severe restrictions on Christian churches.
Government officials and police have been closely watching Rev Wang Yi’s church. Last month policemen visited about 50 members of the congregation. Chinaaid, in a recent update, writes
“According to [Rev] Wang, the purpose of the visits was to prevent people from attending a special service planned tomorrow to commemorate the tenth anniversary of a 7.9-magnitude earthquake that killed 69,000 on May 12, 2008.” [Despite the pressure the service went ahead.] “The Communist government desperately wants to know one thing: if they threaten Christians and prevent them from gathering, will the number of people going to services significantly increase or decrease?
But Wang also seemed uncertain about what may happen between the government and the church, and drew parallels between Christianity’s current, persecuted state under the Chinese government and the persecution of the first Christians under [Roman] Caesars.
Wang is currently with officials being interrogated for “picking quarrels and causing trouble.” Previously he and his wife were prevented from attending a Christian conference in Hong Kong, where he was expected to speak.”
Rev Wang makes a plea that prayers are made for Christians suffering under the disturbances and threats and that they be strengthened by the grace of Jesus Christ.
Because Early Rain has international standing the Chinese authorities are treading carefully in dealing this church at this stage and have not yet ordered it to close down.
More and more underground churches throughout the country are currently being requested to register and subject themselves to government policy and Communist ideology. Many small churches have been ordered to close down. On 31 May ChinaAid reported that
more than 40 armed police officers along with officials from the local department of religious affairs and the neighborhood committee disrupted and forcibly ended a church service on Sunday at Huoshui Church in China’s northern Gansu province. The government accused congregants of “setting up religious venues and organizing religious activities without permission.” Church members stated that the intruders took away the offering box, podium, and numerous works of calligraphy owned by the church. The disrupters then carted off Pastor Qian Rou, along with three other preachers and three church directors, to the police station, where they were questioned and detained until 2 p.m.
As a result, Zion Church in Beijing released the “Prayer Letter for the Huoshui Church of Lanzhou” the next day. The letter urges the government to end church persecution and handle public relations with Christians in an open manner and asks officials to create new laws to protect religious freedom and ensure legal supervision in religious affairs cases.
In another move authorities in the capital city Beijing are doing a street by street, building by building search to identify and record underground house church activities in order to close them down. It is a pilot study and if “successful” is likely to be used elsewhere. It’s a mammoth task and an indication of the tenacity of the government to crack down on Christianity.
The central government has just announced it will also strictly enforce it policies that prohibit all mission work in China by foreigners. Threats are being made against churches and individuals who receive religious instruction from foreigners, or have contact with religious overseas friends.
Please pray for the Christians in China as they face difficult decisions with possibly very serious consequences.
Author: N. Nescio