Independent Catholic News
Tuesday, May 24, 2016 5:25 pm.
■ There has been a seven-fold rise in the persecution of Christians in China since 2008, according to a report by a partner of UK-based Release International.
The report claims China is seeking ‘complete control over the nation’s churches’ with the aim of replacing “Christ as the head of the church with submission to the Communist Party.” To that end, China has increased its crackdown on Christians and churches, especially house churches.
“Our partners China Aid have meticulously documented attacks against Christians and churches in China,’ says Paul Robinson, Chief executive of Release, which serves persecuted Christians worldwide. They have found that religious persecution, especially of house church Christians, is increasing in severity. They document a seven-fold rise in persecution since 2008.
“Last October, the UK hosted a state visit by the Chinese Premier. Release urges David Cameron to use his developing relationship with Xi Jinping to press for full religious freedom in China and an end to persecution. In all conscience, Britain cannot put trade before human rights.”
China has a long history of attempting to bring the rapidly growing church under the control of the atheist state. Since the downturn in the Chinese economy, which has revealed yawning inequalities, the state has been cracking down on churches, Christians and others for fear of unrest.
This includes the arrest of Christian human rights lawyers for mounting a legal campaign against the tearing down of hundreds of Christian crosses from churches. Among them, leading Christian lawyer Zhang Kai, who was forced to publicly confess to crimes against the state on television.
China Aid has documented an increase in persecution of 4.74 per cent in the past year. Over the last nine years the arrest and harassment of Christians in China has been rising. Persecution rates are now 709.94 per cent worse than in 2008. And while fewer Christians are being sent to jail, more are being harassed, beaten and even tortured, the report claims.
In one province alone, Zheijang, the Release partner has independently verified that ‘by the end of 2015, more than 20 churches had been forcibly demolished, 1,300 crosses removed, more than 500 Christians taken into police custody, at least 130 Christians physically injured, more than 60 Christians administratively or criminally detained, and at least 28 pastors and Christians arrested or charged with a crime.’
Churches have been closed and in some areas Christians have taken to worshipping in the open-air under the eye of the authorities – hence the Release Great Outdoors Church Service initiative on May 29.
“Release urges Christians in the UK to stand in solidarity with our Chinese brothers and sisters, and those in other nations where churches have been demolished,’ says Paul Robinson of Release.
“We’re encouraging Christians throughout the UK and Ireland to take part in the Great Outdoors Church Service on May 29 by holding some or all of your service in the open air. This is an opportunity to pray for and remember our Christian brothers and sisters everywhere who are being forced out of their churches.”
Read more about Release International here: http://www.releaseinternational.org/