This article concerns Protestant groups in China who are facing an increasingly virulent crackdown by the Chinese Communist government; however, Orthodox churches in China are in much the same predicament. Holy Orthodoxy has a three-hundred year history in China, with the first Orthodox Christians coming into the country in 1685. The Church grew slowly and steadily there, but was almost wiped out during the Cultural Revolution of the 1960s. In the 1980s, however, the Chinese Orthodox Church began to experience a revival. The Chinese Orthodox Church, like the Protestant churches discussed in this article, is in a difficult position, as it is not one of the Christian groups recognized by the Chinese government. Chinese authorities state as their reason for this that they fear “outside interference” entering the country via the Church, but this lack of recognition leaves Orthodox Christians in China vulnerable. The Order of Saint Andrew, Archons of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, once again requests that the Chinese government grant official recognition to the Chinese Orthodox Church, without interfering with its autonomy, and give full religious freedom to all the Christians of that venerable land.
“Pastors in China Prepare to Lose Their Lives for Preaching the Gospel, Defying Communist Crackdown,” by Stoyan Zaimov, Christian Post, September 22, 2018:
In the face of an ongoing Communist crackdown, pastors in China have vowed to continue preaching the Gospel, even if it costs them their lives.
Aaron Ma, a representative of Open Doors’ Ministry in China, told The Christian Post in an email on Thursday that the watchdog group has so far heard of one case of Bible burning in the country.
“In this case, the authority confiscated belongings of the churches (including Bibles) and burnt them all,” Ma said.
The incident, where Communist Party officials burned Bibles and crosses in Henan, was captured on video and shared online earlier this month by activists, including ChinaAid President Bob Fu, whose group monitors the persecution of believers in China.
Concern has also risen over instances where state officials have been forcing some Christians to sign papers rejecting their faith….
Ma explained that, generally speaking, Chinese Christians, with the exception of civil servants, can profess their faith openly, but noted that it depends on the region and how much the religious restrictions are enforced.
Ma said that Chinese Christians have “different kinds of fear.”
“For example, pastors may fear their believers may not be able to stand strong under this wave of persecution,” he continued.
“Youth Christians and their parents under the threat of being tempted to renounce faith on paper probably fear about their future (before this wave of persecution, youth Christians face a lot of struggles under this materialistic society).”…
The crackdown, which for years has also seen the removal of church rooftop crosses, now appears to be moving to the digital world. China Christian Daily reported on draft guidelines issued on Sept. 10 by the State Administration for Religious Affairs, which are set to be the country’s first regulation on religious messaging services.
The draft, which claims it’s supposed to suppress extremists and combat criminal activities, would place regulations on religious doctrines, knowledge, and other activities spread online.
The regulations would ban religious bodies from preaching outside of their own network platforms, or from streaming videos of worshiping. What is more, the draft places a ban on people using religion to criticize the Communist Party and the socialist system.
Tenzin Dorjee, chair of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, separately told CP in an email Monday that under Xi’s “clenching fist,” the government is targeting religious believers, including Christians, like never before.
He pointed to various instances of Communist officials sentencing members of unregistered church groups to prison and accusing them of belonging to “evil cults.” He also criticized the ongoing demolition of church buildings, such as the Golden Lampstand Church in Shanxi Province….
USCIRF commissioner Johnnie Moore, who serves on the evangelical advisory board for the Trump administration, further told CP on the phone on Friday that there is little sense or reason to the worsening persecution….
Moore pointed to the U.S. State Department’s Ministerial to Advance Religious Freedom in July as a notable step the U.S. government has taken to raise concerns about persecution in China.
“It signaled that [religious freedom] is a priority of all-American foreign policy,” Moore explained.
The gathering featured the stories of persecuted people and advocates from around the world, and shed light on issues where there has not been much international attention, such as the detention of Muslim citizens in concentration camps for arbitrary reasons.
The USCIRF commissioner also suggested that the current trade and other economic discussions between the U.S. and China are not being taken in isolation. The New York Times and others reported last week that the Trump administration is considering sanctions against China over its treatment of Uighur Muslims.
Meanwhile, an unprecedented letter signed by nearly 350 Chinese church leaders who have risked their freedoms and their lives was released to the public.
The Declaration for the Sake of the Christian Faith, as the letter is called, condemned China’s persecution of believers, and insisted that Christians will continue teaching the Bible regardless of what they face.
“We declare that in matters of external conduct, churches are willing to accept lawful oversight by civil administration or other government departments as other social organizations do,” the declaration stated.
“But under no circumstances will we lead our churches to join a religious organization controlled by the government, to register with the religious administration department, or to accept any kind of affiliation,” it continued.
“We also will not accept any ‘ban’ or ‘fine’ imposed on our churches due to our faith. For the sake of the Gospel, we are prepared to bear all losses — even the loss of our freedom and our lives.”