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China Aid founder summarizes characteristics of 2014 persecution against churches

ICC Note:

There was a strong trend of persecution suffered by the Church in China in 2014. From the demolishing of church buildings, to the removal of crosses, to the invading of house churches. Check out this article to get the full summary.

1/22/2015 China (China Aid)-Clearly, the religious persecution in 2014 has a few important and distinct characteristics.

Firstly, 2014 saw the harshest suppression of “Three-Self” churches since the Cultural Revolution which is demonstrated by the massive crackdown launched from the beginning of the year on “Three-Self” churches under the guise of “Three Rectifications and One Demolition.” The various infringements on religious freedom, be it tearing down churches, forcibly demolishing church crosses or converting churches into “community centers,” have all reached the harshest level of persecution since the end of the Cultural Revolution.

According to our incomplete statistics, from January to November 2014, more than 400 churches with names have either been forcibly torn down or had their crosses forcibly relocated or demolished. These things only happened during the Cultural Revolution! But in 2014, they happened in some major cities and regions of Zhejiang Province, then sporadically took place in some other provinces. This is a very noticeable change in 2014.

And we know that in the past, the persecution of Christianity, including Catholicism, mainly focused on unofficial, unregistered house churches. House churches of Protestants and Catholic churches faithful to the Vatican took the brunt of the persecution.

In 2014, the Chinese government classified house church leaders as “cult” leaders to allow for persecution.

The second distinct characteristic is to classify house church leaders, especially in some regions where house churches flourished, as alleged “cult” leaders, target them collectively and suppress them with criminal charges. The scope and intensity of this kind of persecution has reached a historic high.

We can see that in many provinces across the country including Inner Mongolia, Shandong, Henan, Hunan, Shanxi, and Xinjiang, several big cases and religious cases involved allegedly “using cult to undermine law enforcement,” which is a criminal charge used to arrest/detain or arrest/sentence people. In some cases, more than ten leaders of a church were taken into police custody in one event, such as the religious case in Shaoyang, Hunan. The suppression happened in a particular political context. Last year, it was apparent that the authorities took advantage of the crackdown on “Eastern Lightning,” amplified and extended it to many traditional house churches.

In 2014, the authorities applied criminal charges against house churches and tightened its control over children’s conversion to Christianity.

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