Then and now. State pressure brought to bear on the church in Germany and China.
(Picture VOM Korea)
Release International partners have launched a campaign to call for religious freedom in China, where the churches are coming under growing pressure from the state.
A year ago this month, tough new regulations came into force intended to tighten government control over churches in China. Our partners say Christians are facing a five-fold increase in harassment from the authorities.
Release will shortly be presenting a petition to the Chinese Embassy in London, calling on China to repeal the new regulations aimed at restricting freedom of worship. Meanwhile our partners are calling on church leaders around the world to add their names in support of the increasingly beleaguered Christians of China.
A joint statement by pastors expresses concern over ‘violent actions [towards Christians] unprecedented since the end of the Cultural Revolution’.
These include: attempts to distort the Christian faith, the tearing down of crosses, forcing churches to publicly praise the state, banning children from church services and preventing Christians from gathering in public.
They say while Christians will pray for the Chinese government and respect their authority, believers must and will continue to proclaim Christ as sole head of the church.
One of the leading figures behind the campaign is Release partner Bob Fu from ChinaAid, who was invited recently by Release to speak in the UK. At the event, Christian Persecution in China, Bob Fu warned: ‘Churches have been totally destroyed under President Xi’s rule. There is a new spiritual storm coming to the Chinese Church. It may even be worse than during the Cultural Revolution.’
You can hear an interview with Bob Fu here.
Church leaders are invited to sign the joint declaration in support of the persecuted church in China here.
Release is part of the International Christian Association, a global ministry to the persecuted church. Release works with partners around the world to support Christians who are suffering for their faith.
Drawing attention to increasing state control of the church in China, Dr Eric Foley of Voice of the Martyrs Korea, says: ‘Put the photos of 1930s German church sanctuaries and 2019 Chinese church sanctuaries side by side. Put the speeches of the leaders and officials side by side. The similarities are striking.
‘Premier Xi Jinping calls it Sinification—freeing Christianity and other religions from foreign cultural entanglement. Hitler called it Nazification. Both pledged freedom of religion to those who would hang national flags and leader’s portraits in their sanctuaries. Both trotted out theologians who insisted the Bible needed to be re-translated to be properly understood. Both accused those who disagreed of seeking to subvert the state.’
Adds Release CEO Paul Robinson: ‘These are dark days for churches in China, and yet the light of the gospel has never shone brighter. Nothing illustrates this more clearly than the fact that this Joint Declaration for the Sake of the Christian Faith was written by a pastor who is now in jail for that faith.
‘Christian leaders everywhere must stand with the persecuted church in China to ensure that the gospel message – the hope of China and the world – can continue to be proclaimed.’