By Caleb Parke
The coronavirus pandemic that began in China and spread worldwide hasn’t stopped the Chinese Communist Party from persecuting religious minorities, according to Christianwatchdog groups.
The Voice of the Martyrs (VOM), a nonprofit that aids persecuted Christians around the world, reports Chinese officials cracking down during the coronavirus lockdown.
“China is now holding itself up as a model for fighting the coronavirus,” Todd Nettleton, VOM spokesman, told Fox News. “But fighting the pandemic hasn’t stopped communist officials from persecuting Christians.”
Religious persecution continues even in the midst of #WuhanVirus March 11 Xiangbaishu Church in Yixing city, Jiangsu province was destroyed by #CCP govt. Cross is our Glory大疫当前，江苏宜兴香柏树教会,于3.11日遭到强拆.举国上下深感人民的苦难，但谁知道在十字架上那位上帝之子的苦难？ pic.twitter.com/wp35ZexYIu
— Bob Fu傅希秋 (@BobFu4China) March 15, 2020
Chinese Christian Fellowship of Righteousness shared a video of a red cross being removed from a church with a congregation of about 40 in Guoyand County, Anhui Province, on March 13, Christian Post reports.
In Shandong Province, officials issued guidance forbidding online preaching, a vital way for churches to reach congregants amid both persecution and the spread of the virus, Nettleton adds.
— 華人基督徒公義團契 (@ccfr2017) March 13, 2020
The official notice, from Shandong Provincial Three-Self Patriotic Movement and the Shandong Provincial China Christian Council — the two organizations Communist Party leaders use to control protestant Christianity in China — also instructs officials to shut down all unregistered Christian meetings.
The announcement says to check, “earnestly in each jurisdiction, and the fellowships that meet without approval must be completely eradicated.”
The order, dated Feb. 23, closes by giving officials instructions to “positively guide” Christians in unregistered meetings to “other means,” as long as those other means do not include meeting together for worship, fellowship, and spiritual instruction.
Though China is cracking down, some believers see it as a positive opportunity. In one area, VOM reports congregants said they can more openly evangelize because they are wearing surgical masks and China’s facial-recognition cameras are less likely to identify them.