For the last several years, Open Doors has reported on the China Communist Party’s ongoing crackdowns on the Chinese church. Today, we hear almost daily of a church, pastor or believers being threatened by the state. Restrictions, pressure, warnings, and sometimes surprise raids on churches—these are all part of Christian life for the growing Chinese church in 2021.
One of the ways Chinese Christians are experiencing this rise in persecution is at their places of work. Christians who openly follow Jesus and share their faith can be singled out for harsh treatment, as Ruth experienced.
Communist Party officials in Shanxi, Henan, Jiangxi, Shandong and other provinces have threatened to withdraw social welfare benefits, including pensions, if Christians refuse to replace Christian imagery, such as crosses, with pictures of President Xi Jinping. One Christian on welfare apparently reported that officials told him that since he believed in God, he should ask Him for food instead of living off the Communist Party.
Churches have also felt intensifying pressure since new regulations governing religion were implemented with greater force in 2018. The government is actively targeting unregistered house churches to “invite” them for registration—otherwise, they are illegal and may be raided.
“Raids happen quickly,” says Caleb*, an Open Doors worker. “Some churches have been shut down. One was located in a five-story building in a small city. The church took up two floors of the building and had enough seating for 200 brothers and sisters. This venue was raided, shut down and sealed off. The authorities came inside and smashed all the equipment. New renovations were also destroyed. The church was closed and bolted from the outside. The believers were devastated.”
Churches that resort to online services are vulnerable to monitoring; even officially registered churches were ordered to stop online services. “The government monitors people across the country,” said the director of a government-approved church in the eastern province of Shandong. In his same city, when a woman took her child into a registered church, she was captured on CCTV—officials immediately reprimanded the church since minors are forbidden from attending church. Many churches have experienced the confiscation of property and Christian materials including Bibles, as well as raids, fines and arrests of church leaders.
Below, Jonathan Liu, a former pastor in the official Chinese Protestant church, shares about the reality of persecution against Christians in China.