The Chinese government has recently instituted an insidious attack on Christians in that country after distributing a survey to all teachers and parents. The communist party who has ruled China for decades is trying to crack down on the rapidly growing Christian population.
The changes are being instituted by President Xi Jinping. Described as a fanatical Maoist, he is trying to consolidate the communist party’s control of China.
In an interview with the Christian Post, Bob Fu who heads Christian Aid believes the real concern is that there are now more Christians in China than members of the communist party.
There are two types of Christian churches in China. One group is controlled by the state through its State Administration for Religious Affairs (SARA). These legal churches are required to register with one of three organizations such as the Three-self Patriotic Movement. There are about 57,000 government-sanctioned churches (both Catholic and Protestant).
The second group is the larger unregistered house church movement.
It is difficult to nail down how many Christians China has due largely to the underground church. In 2010, the Chinese government estimated there were 23 million Christians with most of them in the house Church movement. That same year the government declared the house church movement a cult.
However, others say the Christian population is much larger. A survey conducted by Dr. Yanga Fenggang of Purdue University estimates there are 33 million Christians (30 million protestants, 3 million Catholics). A 2011 survey by Pew Forum put the number closer to 67 million.
Christianity Today recently reported on the government’s proposed changes to its religious freedom laws to rein in Christianity’s burgeoning growth. SARA released a draft of the new legislation in September for discussion. Most believe this is just a formality and it will pass as is.
According to an expert on Chinese religious policy the 26 new proposals will further restrict the legal church requiring groups to obtain SARA’s prior approval for:
- Any religious activities, including providing buildings used for such activities
- Publishing of religious materials
- Appointing pastors
- People wanting to attend Bible school.
But there are also proposals aimed directly at the underground church — people will no longer be allowed to hold church services in their homes without the approval of SARA. This includes Bible studies.
According to the British Newspaper, The Express, in a meeting this year Chinese President Jinping said:
“If unregistered churches are not willing to be managed by the government or guided by the China Christian Council, the government shall guide and transform their thoughts.”
Though it is obvious the Chinese government is trying to gain control of the underground church, its biggest problem is finding out who attends.
On his blog, Jack Wu shared a survey that the communist party has handed out to all parents and teachers in China. According to Wu, the communist party said any professors and teachers who refuse to fill out the form can immediately start looking for new jobs.
Though it was not explicitly stated, he believes any parents similarly refusing to fill it out will have their children kicked out of school. In July, officials in China’s Guizhou province warned parents any children caught attending religious services will not be allowed to attend college. They also threatened the parents with fines.
The form asks the parents/teachers if they are attending an underground church and if so the names the group’s leaders and all the people attending.
Wu points out that Chinese Christians are facing a significant problem because only one person has to fill out the form to expose all members of the group.
Of course, if the government finds out someone has not properly filled out their form, there will be repercussions. Wu encourages Chinese Christian believers to carefully pray about how they are to handle this.
Meanwhile as the Chinese government cracks down on religious freedom, it continues to lie to the world insisting it is concerned about human rights.
- Red Tape: China wants to constrict Christian activities with 26 new rules: Christianity Today
- Chinese government shuts down underground churches to ‘transform thoughts’ of Christian: Express
- Relevant: Christian persecution in China is even worse than you thought: China aid
- China is serious this time: Jackson Wu blog