5 Signs of Increasing Religious Intolerance in China
Christmas celebrations were banned in some parts of the country
In November, we reported three troubling developments facing Christians in China. From new religious regulations to the increased cult of personality around Xi Jinping to Communist party ties in opposition to Jesus, Christians in China are increasingly facing trials for their faith.
Two months later, our partner organizations in China have shared reports that in some areas in the country, persecution increased during Christmastime.
Christians in China (ranked #39 on the World Watch List) have long been familiar with Communist oppression. Unfortunately, reports of Christmas celebrations being banned surfaced over the last week.
An official public security notice declared: “Public places are not allowed to celebrate Christmas. Even creating a Christmas atmosphere… is severely restricted. All Christmas-related activities are required to be canceled.”
Christmas Celebrations Banned
- An announcement of banning Communist party members to celebrate Christmas, issued by the authority in Hengyang city, Hunan Province, China.
- An announcement of banning students to celebrate Christmas, issued by a school in Inner Mongolia, China. Pray with students who are facing this type of persecution would not be discouraged but would become more emboldened in their walk with Jesus. Pray that God would open doors to students to share their story and the gospel.
- An announcement of banning students to celebrate Christmas, issued by a university in Shenyang, a northeastern city, China. Pray that these students would not be threatened by the rise of strong Communist ideology and would walk deeper with Jesus.
- A large group of policemen in the city center of Chongqing at Christmas eve, stationed there to act as a hindrance to citizens gathered to celebrate Christmas. Pray with local churches in China that they would be strong in their faith and find creative ways to evangelize despite growing intolerance.
- Articles posted on the internet and on Chinese social media (most likely by authorities) to promote strong Communist ideology. Christianity is seen as a kind of overseas infiltration.
The reports are indicators of strong communist ideology promoted by Xi Jinping (general secretary of the Communist Party of China and president of the People’s Republic of China) during November’s 19th Chinese Communist Party National Congress. Some local contacts just consider the announcements and incidents as proactive promotion of enhanced Communist ideology to please state leadership. Others say this is not new. In previous years, similar announcements were made in certain places where the local authorities were strongly attached to Communist ideology. However, they caught little attention.
Historically, Christmas has been celebrated in many places in China by both Christians and non-Christians. Local churches have even taken opportunities to evangelize; some even put attractive lighting on skyscrapers. For example, this year one church lit up a skyscraper in Shenzhen, a southern city in China, saying “Jesus loves you, remember going to the church.” The photo was widely circulated in Chinese social media but was removed quickly.
Reportedly, Communist ideology often has little influence on the younger generation, who are in general more affected by materialism and electronic games on smartphones. Notwithstanding, the rise of strong Communist ideology is also a potential hindrance to evangelizing younger generations in China, as well.
- Pray with Christians in China as the country’s Communist regime enforces a new set of regulations on religious affairs, effective February 1. The laws retain language targeting unregistered religious activities, unofficial religious schools, unauthorized religious instruction, and religious believers going abroad for training, conferences, or other activities. If fully enforced, the new regulations could mean major changes for China’s unregistered church, not only in its worship and meeting practices, but also engagement in areas such as Christian education, media, and interaction with the global church.
- For leader Xi Jinping. In this New York Times report, he’s compared (though not equated) to Mao Zedong, indicating that Xi Jinping has reached heights of power and global influence that could greatly influence Chinese believers’ freedom to worship.
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