"China’s war against religion: ‘Unauthorised’ churches stormed in bid to impose Communist Party control
BEIJING has initiated a violent crackdown on ‘unauthorised’ Christian and Muslim places of worship, storming buildings, tearing down signs and barring entry.
The head pastor of the Zion Church, Ezra Jin Mingri, poses on Aug. 28 in the lobby of the unofficial “house” church in Beijing, China. - image from http://www.taipeitimes.com/News/world/archives/2018/09/11/2003700218
In its latest act, around 70 police and Communist Party officials stormed into the Zion Church in Beijing — housed on the third floor of a nondescript office building in the north of the capital — after its Sunday afternoon service.
“They chased everyone out and sealed off the place, even tearing down our signage on the wall,” church pastor Jin Mingri told AFP. “All our things have been confiscated and we have not been allowed to re-enter the building.”
Chinese citizens are theoretically free to practise any religion — so long as it is officially recognised by the government, and meets Communist Party criteria.
And that’s the catch.
China’s officially atheist government is wary of any organised movements outside its own control, including religious ones, and analysts say oversight of such groups has tightened under President Xi Jinping.
So Beijing has repeatedly cracked down on unauthorised religious activity.
China has also been under heavy international scrutiny for its treatment of its mostly Muslim Uighur minority in the northwestern region of Xinjiang. Human rights groups have accused the Chinese government of conducting a crackdown that has detained of as many as one million ethnic Uighurs in internment camps." - extracted from NEWS.COM.AU
China has banned Bibles as well as public displays of the cross, with plans to stop its 1.38 billion residents from practising the faith.
Digital versions of the Bible are no longer available in China, and only an official approved version by the government church is available for residents to read.
This comes after President Xi declared Christianity as "Western infiltration", insisting Western ideologies that post a threat to the country's Communist regimen." - extracted from NEWS.COM.AU
Zion Church, which was raided at the weekend, was one of the largest “house” churches in Beijing, with up to 1500 people attending its five weekly services.
“I believe the government will continue to go after high profile unregistered churches … particularly those whose pastors signed the open letter, in order to send a strong signal to other churches,” Fulton said, adding that many churches might stop large services and instead have smaller group meetings in homes.
The state-linked China Christian Council estimates the country has around 20 million Christians — excluding Catholics — in official churches supervised by the authorities.
But the true number of worshippers could be higher, at least 40 million to 60 million, according to some estimates.
China’s roughly 12 million Catholics are divided between a government-run association, whose clergy are chosen by the atheist Communist Party, and an unofficial underground church loyal to the Vatican." - extracted from NEWS.COM.AU