According to reports coming out of China, several provinces have stepped up their persecution of the Church by prohibiting children from attending religious services.
Recently, over 100 churches in the Chinese province of Zhejiang received notice that minors can no longer attend any type of religious activity including church and summer camps.
In some jurisdictions, parents were required to sign papers saying their children will not be attending religious services. Officials threatened parents with legal action if they disobeyed.
This is not the first time Zhejiang officials had taken a hard-line against Christians. In late 2015, officials ordered the removal of all crosses on government-run churches. When Christians protested, some were arrested and several churches destroyed.
- Related: Chinese Officials Tear Down More Christian Crosses, Beat Protesters: Breitbart
It is uncertain how widespread this recent edict is, but Amnesty International reported receiving news on this prohibition from around the country.
In Hunan province, politicians stated they will be investigating both government-run churches (both Catholic and protestant) and the underground churches to make sure they are not providing religious training to minors.
Speaking on behalf of Amnesty International, researcher William Nee stated:
“China is in the midst of a religious revival and the current government seems concerned that religion could be a means through which foreign values may penetrate into China and ultimately affect its political stability.”
Since Xi Jinping has become China’s president in 2012, the government has taken a hard-line against Christians, stating publicly that members of the government’s ruling communist party can no longer be Christians.
It also limits the number of people that can be baptized in churches that are part of the government-run Three-Self movement. Because of the severe restrictions that China has put on these government-sanctioned churches, many have gone underground.
It is obvious by its over-reaction, the government is concerned about the rapid growth of Christianity in that communist country.
In 2010, Pew Research estimated there were 68 million Christians in China and said this could potentially reach 70 million by 2050. However, Purdue sociology professor Fengang Yuang, an expert on Chinese religion, says the number of Chinese Christians is much higher and could reach 160 million by 2025 and 247 million by 2032.
5 And whoever receives one such child in My name receives Me; 6 but whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to stumble, it would be better for him to have a heavy millstone hung around his neck, and to be drowned in the depth of the sea. (Matthew 18:5-6 NASV)