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China Wants to ‘Cut Off the Oxygen’ of Christian Churches, Warns Head of Persecution Watchdog

Holy Orthodoxy has a history in China that goes back nearly three and a half centuries. The first Orthodox Christians entered China in 1685. The Orthodox Church then grew steadily until it was almost wiped out during the Cultural Revolution of the 1960s.

In the 1980s, however, the Chinese Orthodox Church began to experience a revival. The story below concerns primarily evangelical Protestant churches, but the Chinese Orthodox Church is also in a difficult position, as it is not one of the Christian groups recognized by the Chinese government. This lack of recognition leaves Orthodox Christians in China vulnerable, as does the Chinese government’s increasing tendency to make demands of the Churches and assert direct control over them.

The Order of Saint Andrew, Archons of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, again requests that the Chinese government grant official recognition to the Chinese Orthodox Church, and full religious freedom to all the Christians of that venerable land.

“China Wants to ‘Cut Off the Oxygen’ of Christian Churches, Warns Head of Persecution Watchdog,” by Leah Marieann Klett, Gospel Herald, December 5, 2018:

The head of a persecution watchdog has warned that Chinese authorities are seeking to “cut off the oxygen” of Christian churches amid reports non-Chinese Christian leaders are being deported for proselytizing.

David Curry of Open Doors USA recently told Mission Network News that government officials want to reduce the influence of “outsiders” on Chinese life.

“The government wants to control access to the Western world. They strongly believe that the Church needs to be part and parcel of the Chinese government,” Curry explains.

“We want it to not be part of a temporal government, but about the words and the cause and the life – and the burial and resurrection – of Jesus.”

MNN notes that there’s been a recent wave of deportations of non-Chinese Christian leaders — and those who remain won’t allow Chinese Christians into their services because they don’t want the Chinese government to kick them out.

South Korean believers in Shandong province stopped a Chinese believer at the door, the outlet reports, stating the following:

“The Chinese government has stipulated that Chinese people and foreigners cannot attend mass together… If we’re discovered holding mass with Chinese people, the government will prohibit us from conducting worship activities here. We will even be deported back to our home country. This isn’t what we want either, but we’re helpless.”

In 2015, officials introduced the term “sinicization,” meaning Muslim, Buddhist, and Christian leaders must fuse their religions with Chinese socialist thought.

The country’s revised Regulations on Religious Affairs, implemented in February, have seen church closures, congregants being detained, Bibles burned, and students being forced to sign documents renouncing their faith. The government has also pushed underground churches to join their registry.

Other religious minorities, including Muslims and Buddhists, have also faced widespread crackdowns and increased persecution, including detentions at so-called “re-educational” camps.

“He (Xi Jinping) is trying to find a way to cut off the independence of the Church,” Curry explained. “They’ve always had laws that they can use against the Church, but now they’re really starting to narrow the focus, sort of ‘cut off the oxygen I think, for the freedom of religious expression in China.”

Currently, China is ranked #43 on Open Door USA’s World Watch List of 50 countries where it’s most difficult to be a Christian. However, Curry told MNN that ranking might change after this year’s events….

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