On Easter Sunday, armed Chinese officers raided the homes of Christians attending an online church service held by Early Rain Covenant Church in Chengdu, China. Six people were forcibly removed from their homes and detained by Public Service Bureau authorities, while others in attendance were threatened with the same fate.
The organization I lead, Open Doors USA, monitors religious persecution around the world. Each year, it releases a ranking of the countries where it is most dangerous to be Christian. Our 2020 “World Watch List” revealed that China is persecuting more Christians than any other country, with nearly 100 million under scrutiny. Up to another million Uighur Muslims are also systematically targeted by Chinese regime.
Until now, China’s efforts have been focused on tracking and penalizing public displays of religion, such as church gatherings and proselytizing. The Easter Sunday raid, however, signals the state’s desire to penalize religious minorities who dare even to engage in private online activity. This bold and unprecedented move by the Chinese government is merely one more data point indicating that the communist country is quietly unleashing a pandemic of persecution while the world works to stifle the spread of the coronavirus.
Days before COVID-19 emerged from China’s Wuhan province, I was in the country on a fact-finding trip. While there, I witnessed firsthand how the Chinese government is using mass surveillance and data modeling to monitor and punish citizens who choose to attend church or share religious material. Seen as a threat to the communist state, Christian activity is considered a betrayal of loyalty to the regime.
These violations, when recorded and linked together by sophisticated surveillance technology, diminish a social score that determines where people of faith can work, travel, or even educate their children. The result: a blueprint of religious oppression updated for the technological age.
The forced closure of thousands of churches and the removal of crosses from buildings are now-commonplace tactics by the Chinese government in order to limit, if not extinguish, Christian practice. Even charitable coronavirus relief provided by people of faith is strongly discouraged by the regime.
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SOURCE: Christian Post, David Curry