We here in the United States and in the Western World have had little experience with real religious persecution.
We enjoy constitutionally protected freedom of religious expression, even if that expression is uncomfortable for government authorities or our increasingly politically correct society.
But the situation is vastly different in many places across the world. The expression of belief in Christ in a Muslim country such as Iran can have serious even fatal consequences.
The most troubling developments in the persecution of Christians and other religious groups throughout the world is no doubt from China. While China used to be a more pluralistic society that permitted religious expression as long as it was not overtly threatening, such is no longer the case.
China is aggressively pursuing a policy of intense religious persecution throughout the country. Teachers throughout the country are demanding absolute submission to the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) building on the new Regulations on Religious Affairs. Among many other things, these new regulations forbid anyone under the age of 18 from entering a church.
The Weaponization of Children
Bitter Winter, a self-described “magazine on religious liberty and human rights in China”, documents how primary schools are indoctrinating children to hate religion. They are taught in these schools that believing in God is abnormal and that is subversive to the country. These schools teach that Christians tend to set themselves on fire to protest government activity and that their parents might get arrested for attending illegal home congregations.
But even more alarming is the instruction from school officials to report their religious parents and relatives to the authorities. Parents are reporting incidents with their young children reminiscent of the Nazi Gestapo or the Communist East Germany Stasi where children can earn extra honor from the government for reporting their religious family and friends.
Children Encouraged to Report Parents who Engage in Religious Activities
A headmaster in a primary school in Xingheng told the students to be atheists and never believe in the existence of deities. The teacher threatened,
If your mom goes to church and believes in God, she doesn’t want you as her child anymore.
Authorities show animated religious propaganda films which portrays believers as black, evil monsters. These propaganda portrayals bring to mind the darkest days of Nazi antisemitic propaganda/
Linzhang county authorities require children to supervise their parents ensuring they do not belong to any religious group or engage in religious activities. One student informed his Christian father that belief in God was abnormal and dangerous as,
It leads to a dead end. If you attend gatherings, you will be arrested.
Exclusion of Any Religion in Public Schools
The exclusion of religion has gone to extremes in public schools. Authorities heavily edit well known literary classics to exclude any mention of religion, the Bible, or God. Foreign masterpieces are in the school libraries. However, critics heavily edit these classics to follow Communist dogma.
For example, editors change the three Bibles in the “Robinson Crusoe” to “several books and they change a passage “When a star falls, a soul ascends to God” in “The Little Match Girl” to “When a star falls, this person leaves this world.”
Children are taught Christianity is a “xie jiao” (Chinese for “cult”) and that some Christians will set themselves on fire. One young boy told his religious mother,
If you believe in it, you will leave home and not take care of me. You might set yourself on fire, too.
The new Chinese religious policy is that anyone holding religious activities outside of a church will be arrested. That includes home churches, religious camps, Bible studies, youth groups, church-run health clinics, and religious funerals.
Since 2017, police frequent funeral and weddings to be sure there is no religious content involved according to the Catholic News Agency.
The ultimate goal of the Chinese Communist Party is not just the control of religious belief, but rather its total eradication. Steven Mosher, President of the Population Research Institute notes,
And the Church is the community party, the acolytes, its members, and their pontiff, Chinese president Xi Jinping himself.
Campaign to “Sinicise” Christianity
Chinese officials see Christianity and campaigns for “human rights” as a Western plot to subvert their control of the country. According to this policy, all citizens must demonstrate their total loyalty to the Communist Party – or else.
Groups that resist this loyalty suffer severe consequences. Chinese authorities have forced over one million Uyghur Muslims into mass internment labor camps, “re-educating” them into new social norms and practices.
Authorities prohibit Muslims from using their native language. They drill the prisoners in Mandarin Chinese and detain them until they are no longer a “threat” to the larger society. This means they must disavow their faith, something which few of them are willing to do.
These so-called “re-education” classes use forms of torture to encourage compliance with new Chinese social policy.
The Guardian documented how prisoners are verbally abused, frequently interrogated for hours while they are deprived of sleep and food. Guards keep many in prison and deprive them of sleep. Guards torture some with electric shocks simply for displaying Muslim symbols or wearing a hijab.
The Guardian also documented how police force Muslims to under “health checks” where fingerprints are collected, DNA samples are taken, along with face scans and blood type.
The collection of DNA samples and blood types from Muslim prisoners was considered a form of intimidation – until recently. There is now have evidence that forced organ donation may have been going on for years. The New York Post reported,
Chinese hospitals promise that they can deliver hearts, livers, kidneys, and corneas of matching blood type and size in two weeks. The surgeries can be scheduled in advance, which suggests hospitals know exactly when the ‘donors’ are going to die. By contrast, America has a highly developed voluntary organ donation system, and recipients typically have to wait hundreds of days.
The China Tribunal in London found evidence for “forced organ harvesting” from Chinese prisoners including the Falun Gong practitioners and Uighur Muslims. The conclusion of this tribunal noted,
forced organ harvesting has been committed for years throughout China on a significant scale, [and] the tribunal has had no evidence that the significant infrastructure associated with China’s transplantation industry has been dismantled.
NBC News noted the China Tribunal concluded that it was “beyond reasonable doubt” that crimes against humanity have been committed against the Falun Gong and Uighur Muslims.
The National Review notes that Chinese officials
are willing to imprison, indoctrinate, and butcher its political enemies. And while it appears that Muslims are bearing the worst, Christians aren’t that far behind.
Catholic Church becomes the “Patriotic Church”
The Catholic Church has had a major presence in China for decades and has a large following. The Church has also had to deal with increasing Communist intrusion into its policies.
The Pope appoints Bishops in the Catholic Church – until now. The Communist Party forced the Pope to cede this power in exchange for Beijing’s recognition of the pope as the head of the Chinese Catholics.
The Pope also conceded to lift the excommunication of seven “illicit bishops” of the Chinese Patriotic Catholic Association. Mosher further noted,
Second, the pope will order two bishops of the underground Church, who have faithfully served for decades under intense persecution, to hand over their dioceses to bishops appointed by the Communist authorities. Shantou bishop Zhuang Jianjian has been ordered to retire, a decision that has caused enormous pain to the local Church, while Mindong Bishop Guo Xijin has been told he will be made an “auxiliary” of the Shantou diocese he has long headed.
Some Catholic Bishops Disagree with Accommodation Policy
Not all Catholic bishops agree with these new policies. Reuters reported Chinese Cardinal Joseph Zen felt,
A church enslaved by the government is no real Catholic Church.
I am not judging their conscience but … it’s a surrender and they have no right to surrender.
LifeSiteNews reported the surrender of the Church to the Chinese Communist Party is done through documents that the church will be compliant with the government and its regulation. Through these documents, the government will control the Catholic Church in China.
Those who fail to sign the documents will be thrown in jail.
Mosher notes that in effect, these documents say that “I am God’s good servant, but I am Emperor Xi’s first.” This is from a famous quotation from Thomas More who proclaimed, “I am the King’s good servant, but I am God’s first”; this declaration led to his execution.
The religious persecution situation in China is going from bad to worse. Authorities destroy church which fail to follow Chinese guidelines and arrest non-subscribing pastors and their congregants.
The situation is even worse in Muslim China. China arrests Muslims for their beliefs. These Muslims are then jailed, tortured, and “re-educated.”
The West should remember the ‘one child policy’ which China held for many years. The implementation of the one child policy produced the slaughter of hundreds of millions of babies – primarily girls.
Enforcing central government policy by force is nothing new in Communist China. Mao Zedong’s slaughtered 30 to 70 million of his own people. He did this through starvation, prison labor camps to the one-child policy, forced abortions and sterilizations.
China exterminates religious thought by demanding total loyalty to the central government.
As Dostoevsky famously said in this novel, The Brothers Karamazov (1880),
If God does not exist, everything is permitted.
Or in the original Russian from his novel,
Без бога всё позволено