“We want to protect religious freedom.” This is the premise of the latest white papers the Chinese government released in early April. On the surface, we can all get on board with protecting religious freedom. But further investigation of the recent papers tells a completely different story. In fact, this “protection” includes such acts as removal of crosses from over 2000 churches over the past sixteen months and arrest and detainment of thousands of believers. Beyond that, it’s notable that the premise outlined does not target Buddhists, Hindus, Muslims, or any religion outside of Christianity, but it categorizes Christians as extremists.
Using the Chinese constitution as support for “freedom of religious belief,” the government’s latest statement goes on to describe how these freedoms are systematically taken away from anyone not registered as part of the Three-Self Movement, or the government-sponsored church. The language is crafted in such a way as to appear to portray their support for freedom, but the text makes it clear that anything not in complete agreement with the Communist party’s definition of Christianity will not be tolerated.
It is clear that the Church is seen as a threat to Chinese society. Not the government-supported and very-controlled established church, but those Followers who are not officially registered with the government and who operate in secret, often risking their lives for the Gospel.
Because the Church is a threat, anything and everything is being set in place to try to stop its growth. This translates into many foreign ministries being removed from China. It also means that the government is cracking down on citizens who access information online from Christian ministries in other nations, labeling foreign influences as infiltrators and their activity as espionage. IN fact, in order for a foreigner to be allowed to preach inside China, it’s required that they obtain permission from a higher-level government office. You can probably guess what that would look like.
Bans are in effect against activities that “disrupt public order, impair the health of citizens, or interfere with the educational system of the state.” It is not difficult to read between the lines and see that Christian activities could be interpreted to fall into each one of these categories.
In attempts to silence foreign influence and the activity of the underground Church inside China, it is our job to uphold our brothers and sisters in prayer. When one suffers, we all suffer (1 Cor 12:26). The podcast/FB live broadcast goes into more detail about the current happenings. We want to provide you with the most accurate up-to-date information so that you can pray effectively for both the Chinese Church and for BTJ. Don’t let this be another current event story. Let this serve as your prayer guide and join hands with us to see the Light shine ever brighter in a land that seems to grow darker by the day.
Elizabeth Bell has a heart for the persecuted Church and loves to share stories of God’s faithfulness to His children. She has spent several years working in closed countries to further the advancement of the Gospel.