China is raiding and shuttering churches, assaulting worshipers, destroying crosses and burning Bibles in escalating persecution of Christians under a Communist constitution that claims to grant religious freedom.
Police shut down the largest house church in Beijing Sunday (Sept. 9), the multisite Zion Church, Reuters reported. The Chaoyang District Civil Affairs Bureau told the church it was illegal because it wasn’t registered with the government-controlled Three-Self Patriotic Movement (TSPM).
A week earlier in Henan Province, federal and local government officials of various ranks stormed several churches and assaulted worshipers, it was widely reported.
Henan police raided a church and burned crosses, Bibles and furniture on Sept. 5, a Henan pastor told the Associated Press under condition of anonymity. Under new restrictions on religion that have been in place since February, Henan officials have closed churches, forced congregations to display the Chinese flag and pictures of Maoism founder Mao Zedong and current president Xi Jinping, and have sometimes taken Christians into custody, China religious freedom watchdog China Aid said.
China Aid is among groups denouncing the acts and calling on the international community to help China’s persecuted Christians, who comprise 5.1 percent of the nation’s 1.38 billion people.
“The massive clampdown against thousands of churches in Henan and the forced closure and total shutdown of the largest house church in Beijing, Zion Church, [represent] a significant escalation on President Xi’s crackdown down against religious freedom in China,” China Aid Founder and President Bob Fu said Sept. 10.
“Now that the Chinese Communist Party has started to burn Bibles and coerce millions of believers in the Christian faith and other religious minorities to even sign a written pledge to renounce their basic religious beliefs,” Fu said, “the international community should be alarmed and outraged at this blatant violation of freedom of religion and belief, and demand the Chinese regime stop and remedy this dangerous course.”
Religious persecution has escalated under the presidency of Xi that began in 2013 and is no longer subject to term limits, which the government dropped in March.
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Source: Baptist Press