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Overview (10767) :: China (76)

China :: Christian Persecution   ::   Print this Article
12-12-2010 10:32 pm -
The Chinese government has launched a crackdown on “house churches” — Protestant congregations that don’t belong to the state-sanctioned church organization — branding the house church movement a “cult.”

That report comes from the China Aid Association (CAA), a U.S.-based Christian group founded in 2002, which calls the Chinese government’s move “grave and troubling.”

The CAA said in a Dec. 7 report: “The all-powerful Politburo of the Chinese Communist Party launched ‘Operation Deterrence’ on Dec. 1.

“According to the Politburo’s top-secret instructions, the crackdown on the largest component of the mainland Chinese church is to continue through March 2011 . . . [The party’s security apparatus has] been notified to collect information about house churches throughout the country and turn these reports in to their superiors.

“A long ‘blacklist’ of church leaders and influential believers reportedly has been drawn up.”

Some 70 million Chinese believers worship in unregistered house churches, according to a 2007 Pew Research Center report. China’s state-sanctioned church organization, the Three Self-Patriotic Movement (TSPM), has only about 16 million Protestant members.

Chinese Christians are reluctant to register with the TSPM — the “three” are self-governance, self-support, and self-propagation — due to theological concerns, CNSNews reported. TSPM leaders say loyalty to the state should take precedence over belief in Christ.

“Recent government actions against Christians, including official harassment of influential house church leaders, the ordination of a Catholic bishop in defiance of the Vatican’s wishes and even the cyberattacks that brought down China Aid’s Chinese and English news websites, appear to have been a prelude signaling the advent of the crackdown,” the CAA reported in its website.

“Operation Deterrence harks back to the previous era of hostilities and often brutal government persecution that had for decades driven unknown hundreds of thousands of believers ‘underground,’ worshipping in secret and fearing for their lives and freedom.”

The labeling of the house church movement as a “cult” is ominous. China termed the Falun Gong meditation movement a cult in 1999. Since then more than 100,000 practitioners have been sentenced to “reform through labor” camps, according to sources cited by the U.S. State Department.

“They have also been given long prison sentences and even the death penalty simply because of their religious practices, and reports of Falun Gong practitioners being beaten to death in prison or while in other forms of detention have been common,” the CAA observed.

“The specter of similar treatment now hangs over house church Christians as a result of the ‘cult’ label.”

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