China Orders Christians to Renounce Their faith and Burn Bibles
Christian congregations in Beijing and several provinces are having their crosses destroyed, Bibles burned, and churches shut down according to pastors and a group that monitors religion in China. Furthermore, the government is ordering followers of Christ to sign papers renouncing their faith in some areas.
Under President Xi Jinping, China’s most powerful leader since Mao Zedong, religious believers are seeing their freedoms shrink dramatically even as the country undergoes a religious revival.
The continued suppression of religious freedom is part of an official campaign to “Sinicize” religion by demanding loyalty to the atheist Communist party. They also seek to remove any potential challenge to the party’s power in the country.
Bob Fu of the U.S.-based group China Aid said that the closure of churches in central Henan province and a prominent house church in Beijing in recent weeks represents a “significant escalation” of the crackdown.
“The international community should be alarmed and outraged for this blatant violation of freedom of religion and belief,” he wrote in an email.
#China CCP starts burning the Bible and crosses in Henan. Last time burning Bibles campaign happened in late 1960s by dictator Chairman Mao’s wife Jiang Qing in Shanghai. She was arrested in 1976 but Christians grew to millions. Will Never be successful河南文革重现，烧圣经十字架 pic.twitter.com/T5esv16NXI
— Bob Fu傅希秋 (@BobFu4China) September 5, 2018
Fu also provided video footage of what appeared to be piles of burning bibles and forms stating that the signatories had renounced their Christian faith.
Jay Sekulow, President Trump’s attorney and Chief Counsel at the American Center for Law & Justice (ACLJ), wrote in a tweet: “The situation for Chinese #Christians becomes more dire by the day. We are working tirelessly to put maximum pressure on China stop the persecution.”
A Christian pastor in the Henan city of Nanyang said crosses, bibles and furniture were burned during a raid on his church on Sept. 5. The pastor, who asked not to be identified by name to avoid repercussions from authorities, said several people entered the church just as it opened its doors at 5 a.m. and began removing items.
Officials reportedly disputed the allegations raised by Christians, saying authorities respect religious freedom.
Unfortunately, the persecution is nothing new and has been going on since 2012. A report by the watchdog group Freedom House said a third of all religious believers in China who belong to a faith group were also found to face “high” to “very high” levels of persecution. This ranges from bureaucratic harassment and economic exploitation to harsh prison terms and even violence.