By Aaron Mercer, Vice President of Government Relations; nrb.org
Religious discrimination is escalating dramatically in China. According to the Associated Press, President Xi Jinping “is waging the most severe systematic suppression of Christianity in the country since religious freedom was written into the Chinese constitution in 1982.”
The Chinese president is working to “Sinicize” religions in the nation to make them ultimately loyal to the Communist Party. Efforts aimed at Christians, Muslims, and Buddhists are intensifying, so much so that several nations, including the U.S., issued a special statement during the State Department Ministerial to Advance Religious Freedom in July that called attention to allegations that Chinese officials “torture, physically abuse, arbitrarily arrest, detain, sentence to prison, or harass adherents of both registered and unregistered religious groups for activities related to their religious beliefs and peaceful practices.”
Recently, more than a hundred Christian pastors in China signed a declaration of their intent not to subject their allegiance to Christ to any human authority. They resolved:[W]e believe and are obligated to teach all believers that all true churches in China that belong to Christ must hold to the principle of the separation of church and state and must proclaim Christ as the sole head of the church. 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. 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. 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 of our lives.
John Stonestreet, president of The Chuck Colson Center for Christian Worldview, commented this week that Chinese government officials are “not content with mere obedience to the laws or the lack of any real challenge to the Communist Party’s authority. Their goal is to eliminate any distinction between the Party and society.”