Christian Persecution in China Despite Supposed Religious 'Freedom'
Christians face persecution and discrimination everyday in communist China, yet it remains a largely under reported story. China's "constitution" allows freedom of religion, but only a few faiths are actually allowed and they are not entirely protected. The attacks against Christians are getting worse, and Religion Today documented a series of cases that took place in August 2013.
Christians in Lingao were beaten after they protested a construction project on a site that was rightfully theirs. The people were promised a church of their own, but the city sold the lot to another company behind closed doors. Children and the elderly were among the beaten, and two women were put in a coma. In another case, government officials abducted and assaulted a leader of the Linfen house church. Li Shuangping was punched and kicked in the head and the perpetrators threatened his family.
The Sunzhuang Christian church in Zhengzhou was built with permission from the government, but local officials are not protecting church members. Parishioners have found dirt and rocks blocking the doors to the church many times. The church also had its electricity or water shut off, but authorities ignore the complaints from members and have not made any effort to make sure it never happens again.
Another house church was invaded by government officials, and the preacher was taken into custody. He was told to join the Three-Self Patriotic Church, which is the only official Protestant church in China. The people at the gathering at the time were also detained and suffered intense interrogations.
These are only a handful of examples of what Christians suffer in China. Bob Fu recently authored his autobiography God's Double Agent: The True Story of a Chinese Christian's Fight for Freedom, which documents his journey from accepting Christianity, fleeing to the United States, to doing everything he can to help Christians in China.
Fu was arrested in 1996 after the government found out about his house church and placed him under house arrest. Then he discovered his wife Heidi was pregnant and they could be re-jailed because they did not receive a pregnancy permit. They fled to Thailand and then Hong Kong, where Heidi gave birth to their first child. But two years later, China took over Hong Kong and the Fu family was forced to flee again. The Clinton administration took them in as refugees; they now live in Midland, TX with three children.
Fu did not forget about the millions of persecuted Christians in his homeland. He found the group China Aid in 2002, which advocates for religious freedom in China. Their mission is to bring awareness to the persecutions in China and to give a voice to Christians who want to practice in China. The group's annual report on Christian persecution was released in February, and the findings are very disturbing:
"Based on information collected by ChinaAid in 2012 on 132 persecution cases involving 4,919 people, the number of people sentenced jumped 125% over the previous year and the incidences of persecution rose 41.9% from 2011."
Fu and others, however, will not give up until people are allowed to practice religion freely in China.
"In China, God is much more vivid and preached in 2013 than in any really time in Chinese history," said Fu.
"And yes, his name, God's name, is not allowed to preached, to be even appear in any like public square, even the government sanctioned churches cannot do advertisements and no Bible is allowed to be sold from any public book store, so you're not really allowed to any evangelism outside of the government church buildings—yet there are truth, Bible, faithful believers who have been knowing the risk of being persecuted; they continue to travel from village to another, from one factory to another shop, to share this gospel and, and I think in spite of all this persecution. I think God is visible and invisible at the same time," he added.