China (MNN) — China Aid timed the release of the
2008 Persecution Report, documenting a significant increase of persecution of
house church Christians in China during the past year.
The review on the rights record
could trigger protests surrounding the politically-sensitive anniversaries in
China, adding to government worries about unrest as unemployment rises. China Aid notes that persecution of Christians
is clearly human rights abuse. The Chinese government does not recognize the
human rights of house church Christians because they are not members of the
Legal churches are strictly
controlled by the government. Those who do not wish to follow government
policies on religious practice and beliefs must meet in homes and risk being
labeled as "evil cults."
Fu says, "The Chinese
society entered into the most volatile time of history. The Chinese government
has already tried to neutralize the so-called 'threats,' and unfortunately, the
house church is still listed as their target."
Such a designation can result in
closing down the church, confiscation of property, and charges against the
leadership, often resulting in torture, imprisonment and death.
In any case, while the report is
not comprehensive, it does cover the majority of provinces and municipalities
in China and involves many types of persecution and indicates a trend towards
targeting Christians in urban areas with tougher tactics.
For example, the year of the
Beijing Olympic Games marks a year of increased persecution of house church
Christians. In 2008, the total number of house church Christians persecuted in
the nation increased 157%. In Beijing alone, persecution increased 418%.
As for the government's success
in stopping the Gospel, Fu says, "I think the effect will be contrary to
what the Communist Party wants to accomplish–that is, an even bigger revival
and more growth of the church."
China Aid urges recipients of
this information to hold the Chinese government responsible for the human
rights abuses against house church Christians in China. Pray for boldness for Christians in sharing
the Gospel, despite the dangers that they face.