China is set to launch a nationwide crackdown on Christianity, ABC News reports.

The country’s governing Communist Party has just enacted regulations tightening its oversight of religion. This is the latest move by which aims to strengthen the party’s control over society.

According to The New York Times, under China’s latest regulations, the finances of religious group will be scrutinized and people who rent or provide space to illegal churches may face heavy fines. Even theology students who study abroad could be monitored closely. There will also be restrictions on religious schools and limits to access on religious writings.

Chinese President Xi Jinping has warned that all religions must now have to become “Chinese” and Christians will be criminalized if they do not pledge loyalty to the state. He believes that religion “must conform to and benefit a socialist society.”

Religion has been reviving in the country despite the Communist Party’s efforts to control religion. Some of the poorest areas in Beijing are home to migrant workers who come from various parts in China and this is where the church is growing the fastest.

Wang Zeqing, pastor of a small underground Protestant group, said the new laws will be the congregation’s greatest challenge but they will not falter. “A person who truly believes in Jesus Christ will not lose their faith or become weak due the changing environment,” he says.

There are several hundreds of underground churches and other covert places of worship in Beijing. Some say there are 100 million Christians in China which is more than Communist Party members. About 25 million Chinese Christians are registered at state-run churches. The unregistered worshipers alarm the Communist Party because this signals their new ideology, the China dream ‘prosperity for all,’ is failing and people are finding a deeper meaning, a salvation in religion.

China Aid’s new report, China’s Religion Persecution Report (2015-2016), said the nation is “regressing into a more Maoist regime.” The report stated, “China continuously violates its own laws and international statutes safeguarding religious freedom in favor of promoting a socialist agenda, forcing religious devotees to choose between certain persecution and disregarding their deeply held beliefs.”

Sources:

Abcnetau. (2016). ABC News. http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-10-08/chinese-communist-partys-crackdown-on-religion/7912140

Nytimescom. (2016). Nytimescom. http://www.nytimes.com/2016/10/08/world/asia/china-religion-regulations.html

Wndcom. (2016). WND. http://www.wnd.com/2016/10/china-now-on-warpath-against-its-own-state-churches/

Joyce has more than 15 years experience writing news, industry articles and blogs for the private and public sectors. Most of her career was spent writing technical documentation for a software company in the Philippines. She earned a B.A. in Communication Arts with a concentration in writing from the University of the Philippines, Los Baños. During her leisure time, Joyce pursues her interest in reading fiction and playing with her dogs. She can be contacted at Joyce@1cvm.com.