The Empire Strikes Back: China Assaults Home Churches
ICC Note: While persecution of Christians in the world’s most populous nation has changed dramatically over the past three decades, it still occurs on a regular basis. One human rights organization with contacts across China recently revealed that recorded incidents against Christians, including raids on house churches, arrests, and imprisonment, had risen dramatically in 2012 compared with previous years. The Communist government typically uses a more subtle approach than in past decades, but still views home churches as a political movement to be carefully controlled.
3/3/2013 China (vineoflife.net) – China’s crackdown against its thriving home-church movement is surging, only a few months after it was reported the communist nation’s attacks on Christians had subsided, according to a new report from the Chinese-focused human rights group China Aid.
China Aid said its research shows a 42 percent increase in persecution over the past 12 months.
China Aid founder Bob Fu, who says the Chinese government is wary of organized groups, confirmed, “Experts say the Communist Party in China has long felt threatened by any movement that galvanizes a large sector of the population, fearing it could wield political clout.”
Now, he said, “The nation has become more systematically hostile to worshipers.”
China Aid spokesman Mark Shan told WND the government appears to intend to do what is necessary.
“There is a major effort now to wipe out the house churches by any means. The government will shut down the church,” Shan said. “Or, they will force the house church members to join an official church.”
Those official groups, recognized and allowed by the government, also are influenced by the government, critics have explained.
Shan says that the government’s approach to home churches varies based on the region, the size of the church, or the officials in charge.
“Sometimes they will raid the house church meeting and try to intimidate the people into leaving and not coming back,” Shan said. “Other times they will impose fines on the people or give them short-term jail sentences. Or, sometimes if they feel especially threatened by a house church, they’ll send some of the people to a labor camp.”
International Christian Concern’s Asia analyst Ryan Morgan confirms the information from the China Aid report. Morgan said it appears as if there is evidence of a new anti-Christian offensive in China.
“What we are hearing from our own sources does confirm that there seems to be a widespread, government-backed effort to crack down on house churches going on across China right now,” Morgan said.
Morgan reported that Chinese authorities in Shandong Province raided a house church meeting and arrested a Chinese-American and two South Korean missionaries.
He said this raid and others show that Chinese authorities have increased their anti-house church activities.
“We definitely saw a spike in pressure on house church Christians around the country last year, especially as the once in a decade leadership change at the 18th National Congress of the Communist Party approached in November,” Morgan said.