Christians in China are experiencing an escalating wave of persecution unseen since Mao’s Cultural Revolution. “We’re seeing more persecution at a higher level,” said The Voice of the Martyrs Todd Nettleton. Nettleton said two recent developments have contributed to the government’s church crackdown. “In February new regulations on religious affairs took effect all across China and now those regulations are being put into effect and enforced. We’re seeing how that is being translated from the national government down to the provincial level and local levels and how that is effecting churches,” he explained.
Another significant development occurred in March when the Communist Party changed the law allowing the Xi Jinping to serve for an unlimited time in office. “He can now serve as president for as long as he wants,” said Nettleton. “As a provincial leader he controlled religious expression and the church. Now that he is president of the entire country, that same emphasis is spreading from the national government level down to every part of China.” In recent months, Xi has instituted a brutal crackdown. Officials have demolished or closed churches, bibles have been burned, pastors arrested, and crosses are still being removed from atop church buildings.
Authorities have urged church leaders to remove pictures of Jesus from their sanctuaries and replace them with posters of President Xi instead. They’ve suggested hymns be replaced with patriotic songs about the Chinese Communist Party. Nettleton said Chinese authorities are using advanced artificial intelligence software to monitor church attendees. “One pastor in Beijing was told by the government, ‘you may continue holding your services, but we just want to put this camera on your platform looking out at the audience so that we can tell who comes to church on Sunday what they are doing and how involved they are,'” he said. The pastor refused to comply so the church was closed down.
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