In an escalating crackdown on religious congregations, Chinese officials burned Bibles, damaged churches, and forced Christian believers to sign papers renouncing their faith in Beijing and other provinces.
According to a Christian pastor from Nanyang in Henan, several people went inside the church and burned Bibles, crosses, and furniture on September 5, 2018. According to Bob Fu of China Aid, the crackdown on Christian faith is part of a government campaign to force people to be loyal to the atheist Communist party. “The international community should be alarmed and outraged for this blatant violation of freedom of religion and belief.” He added that the last time burning bibles occurred was in the late 1960s in Shanghai by Jiang Qing, wife of dictator Chairman Mao. In 1976, she was arrested, and the Christian population reached millions.
#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
It was reported that activists filmed footage of burning Bibles and papers showing signatures of people who denounced their faith. Also, officials allegedly forced believers to sign the forms. Otherwise, they would face school expulsion or loss of welfare benefits.
Sixty government workers, together with police cars and firetrucks, also closed Zion Church, the largest house church in Beijing, according to Ezra Jin Mingri, the church’s pastor. They said the gatherings were illegal. “Churches will continue to develop. “Blocking the sites will only intensify conflicts,” he added.
The Chinese government is reportedly intensifying its most severe crackdown on congregations of Christians since religious freedom was granted in 1982. This coincides with the consolidation of power of President Xi Jinping, making him the country’s most powerful leader since Mao Zedong.
About one million people have been detained in indoctrination camps, forcing them to denounce their faith and express loyalty to the Communist Party.
However, Chinese officials denied all allegations, saying they respect religious freedom. According to Chinese laws, believers of the religion are allowed to worship only in government-sanctioned congregations. But a large number of Christians worship in underground churches that do not adhere to regulations of the government.
According to a report by watchdog group Freedom House, suppressing religious freedom in China is nothing new. Since 2012, Christians, as well as other religious groups in the country, have been persecuted.
In addition to Christians, members of Muslim minority groups have also been affected by the crackdown. About one million people have been detained in indoctrination camps, forcing them to denounce their faith and express loyalty to the Communist Party. While the government denied having these camps, they said it’s important to tackle extremism.
The country has about 38 million Protestants. In the future, it is predicted that it will be home to the largest Christian population in the world.