Religious experts say China, a country where only state-approved religious exercise is permitted, has one of the fastest growing Christian congregations in the world. The country is on track to have more than 250 million Christians– a huge majority of them worshiping in forbidden underground churches– by 2030. Unfortunately, China’s leaders consider the growing religious population a threat to its authoritarian government.
Those leaders are setting the stage for what may become one of the biggest religious persecution campaigns in modern history.
A 2014 report from The Telegraph declared that the officially-atheist communist country would become the “world’s most Christian nation” in the next 15 years.
But China’s Christian community is also one of the world’s most imperiled faith groups in the world. For Chinese Christians who opt to worship in churches which have gained the government’s seal of approval (only about 30 million of them, according to estimates), a typical service is rife with government propaganda and takes place under the watchful eye of surveillance cameras forcibly installed by the government.
Worshipers and church leaders who fail to carry out their faith in a way that pleases the government are frequently attacked, beaten and arrested by police. In recent years, the country has also taken to destroying crucifixes on display in Chinese provinces, confiscating church property, levying hefty arbitrary fines and fees against churches or simply razing places of worship which displease the country’s totalitarian leaders.
In the past two years, more than 1,100 Chinese church leaders were thrown in jail for preaching.
And at the beginning of next year, things will get even worse for China’s estimated 115 million practicing Christians because of new laws prioritizing government action against churches the state believes could be used to by westerners to weaken the Communist Party’s hold on Chinese people.
According to reports, government agents in the country will go after Chinese pastors caught operating outside state approval by taking donations, instructing children or disseminating religious information online and elsewhere. Those caught will be fined anywhere from from 100,000 yuan to 300,000 yuan or thrown in jail– and their churches will be destroyed. Individuals who open their homes for un-approved religious worship will also face hefty fines for “providing conditions for illegal religious events.”
In an effort to avoid run-ins with the government, many Chinese Christians are already taking steps to further cloak their religious activities.
But human rights organizations like the U.S.-based China Aid say that is only going to intensify the government’s attacks, as well as the number of Christians thrown into jails for broadly defined political crimes.
What’s most important to keep in mind in light of China’s crackdown on religious activity is that they are occurring at a time when Western leftists are publicly embracing Communist ideas in places like the U.S. If they ever succeed in making their agenda a reality, it may not be long before this sort of persecution makes its way into a community near you.
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