China: Government campaigns to control Christianity worsened in 2019

March 14, 2020

Persecution of Christians in China: This attempt to create a “religion with Chinese characteristics” is a matter of grave concern also for the tiny community of Orthodox Christians in China. The Chinese government has not granted Orthodox Christianity any official status, and is clearly trying to remake Christianity into a pliant tool of the Communist Party. The Orthodox churches in China could be closed at any time at the whim of local officials, and Orthodox Christians taken into custody.

China offers yet another instance of the persecution of Christians by governing officials that is unfortunately on the increase not only in China, but in all too many other nations around the world.

For previous coverage of the persecution of Christians in China, see here.

“Chinese campaigns to control Christianity worsened in 2019, watchdog says,” CNA, March 10, 2020:

The Chinese government’s campaign to develop “religion with Chinese characteristics” has increased persecution of the country’s Christians, the human rights watchdog ChinaAid has said.

A 53-page report released Feb. 28 by the Texas-based NGO accuses Chinese officials of destroying churches, imposing strict regulations on religion, and encouraging both non-religious people and officially recognized churches to inform on illegal house churches.

Government policies “encourage reports of illegal religious activities, mainly targeting house churches,” it said.

“Encouraging snitching is a common method applied by the Chinese Communist Party to reinforce its rule,” said ChinaAid. “Authorities used money incentives to motivate non-believers to report house churches’ so-called ‘illegal religious activities’, attempting to produce conflicts and tension between non-Christians and Christians and increase the mistrust between the two people groups.”

Some regions of China have a ratings and review system which deducts points for non-compliant churches. If churches refuse to address violations or score under 50 points for two consecutive years, they can lose their registration as official religious sites. Christian churches that bear religious logos or bear crosses can lose five points, as can churches that do not fly the national flag.

By contrast, active reporting of illegal religious activity to authorities will earn a church five points.

Automatic vetoes drop a church to zero points, for instance if it disobeys the government, organizes protests, contacts overseas members, contacts religious group members whom the government considers a “cult,” or running Sunday schools or summer camps. A computerized management and compliance model is active at some religious sites.

In March 2019, all the Catholic priests who had not joined the Chinese Patriotic Catholic Association in the Diocese of Mindong were ordered to join or leave their churches. A monetary reward equal to about $28,600 was offered to priests who joined….