China demolishes hundreds of churches and confiscates Bibles during crackdown on Christianity

18:46 • 08.08.18



Concerns have been raised over China's apparent crackdown on Christianity as the ruling Community party continues to intensify its control over religious freedom in the country.


The Daily Mail reports that churches were raided and demolished, Bibles and holy books were confiscated and new laws were established to monitor religious activities in the country's province of Henan, which has one of the largest Christian populations in China.


Under President Xi Jinping, China's most powerful leader since Mao Zedong, believers are seeing their freedoms shrink dramatically even as the country undergoes a religious revival. 


Experts and activists say that as Xi consolidates his power, he is waging the most severe systematic suppression of Christianity in the country since religious freedom was written into the Chinese constitution in 1982.


Guo, a 62-year-old Chinese shopkeeper had waited nearly his entire adult life to see his dream of building a church come true - a brick house with a sunny courtyard and spacious hall with room for 200 believers.


But in March, about a dozen police officers and local officials suddenly showed up at the church on his property and made the frightened congregants disperse. 


They ordered that the cross, a painting of the Last Supper and Bible verse calligraphy be taken down. And they demanded that all services stop until each person along with the church itself was registered with the government, said Guo, who gave his last name only from fear of retribution.

 

Without warning, Guo and his neighbors in central Henan had found themselves on the front lines of an ambitious new effort by the officially atheist ruling Communist Party to dictate - and in some cases displace - the practice of faith in the country.

 

The crackdown on Christianity is part of a broader push by Xi to 'Sinicise' all the nation's religions by infusing them with 'Chinese characteristics' such as loyalty to the Communist Party. Over the last several months, local governments across the country have shut down hundreds of private Christian 'house churches'. A statement last week from 47 in Beijing alone said they had faced 'unprecedented' harassment since February.

 

A dozen Chinese Protestants interviewed by the Associated Press described gatherings that were raided, interrogations and surveillance, and one pastor said hundreds of his congregants were questioned individually about their faith. Like Guo, the majority requested that their names be partly or fully withheld because they feared punishment from authorities.

 

A demolished house church is seen in the city of Zhengzhou in central China's Henan province. Under President Xi Jinping, China's most powerful leader since Mao Zedong, believers are seeing their freedoms shrink dramatically

A painting of the Last Supper is seen next to posters quoting China's constitution on religious freedom in a house church shut down by authorities near the city of Nanyang in central China's Henan province, the country's Christian heartland

A Chinese national flag flies over a church  near the city of Pingdingshan in Henan province. Experts say that President Xi Jinping is waging the most severe systematic suppression of Christianity in the country since 1982

A slogan outside a church reads 'Educate the believers with excellent Chinese traditional culture' near Pingdingshan, Henan

Chinese calligraphy reads 'All nations belong to the Lord arising to shine' at left and 'Jesus's salvation spreads to the whole world' at right are displayed below a crucifix in a house church shut down by authorities near the city of Nanyang, Henan

Children play near the entrance of a church with a sign reading 'Notice: Minors prohibited from entry' near  Lushan, Henan



 





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