Religious Freedom in China: ‘alarming increase in systematic, ongoing abuses’
ICC Note: Several credible sources have documented the recent increase in the persecution of Christians in China. We find encouragement, however, from the news of continued church growth there. Please stand with us in support our brothers and sisters living through these difficult times.
By Carey Lodge
05/08/2015 China (Christian Today)
China has long been considered one of the worst countries for religious liberty. Designated a country of particular concern by the US since 1999, the latest report from the Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) found an “alarming increase in systematic, egregious, and ongoing abuses” in 2014.
Last year, “the Chinese government took steps to consolidate further its authoritarian monopoly of over all aspects of its citizens lives,” the report states. “People of faith continue to face arrests, fines, denials of justice, lengthy prison sentences, and in some cases, the closing or bulldozing of places of worship.”
Though freedom of religion is guaranteed under the Chinese Constitution, it is restricted to those who belong to state-sanctioned “patriotic religious associations” within Buddhism, Taoism, Islam, Catholicism and Protestantism – the only recognised religions. The government closely regulates and monitors religious activities among these groups, and undercover officials are known to sit in on meetings. Surveillance cameras adorn the walls of many sanctioned churches, keeping a watchful eye on worshippers.
However, Christianity is experiencing unprecedented growth across the nation. Reports suggest that between 3,000 and 10,000 people are turning to Christianity every day, and while there were just one million believers when the CPC came to power in 1949, there are now thought to be as many as 100 million.
Whether the government acknowledges it or not, however, religious freedom will likely remain an issue in China. Faith systems challenge the CPC’s craving for total control, and it will no doubt continue to aggressively silence anything, and anyone, that threatens to resist it.