Christians in China are Keeping the Faith

August 25, 2005 Updated: August 25, 2015
Police gather outside an underground Catholic church just outside the city of Baoding in northern Hebei province. (Peter Parks/AFP/Getty Images)
Police gather outside an underground Catholic church just outside the city of Baoding in northern Hebei province. (Peter Parks/AFP/Getty Images)

The so-called “Three-selves (self-governing, self-supporting, and self-propagating) Patriotic Movement Committee of the Protestant Churches in China” represents an unconventional version of Christianity in China.

The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) requires all forms of Christianity to bow to the authority of this committee since it took power, giving it authority over all religious precepts, freedoms, and ideas. The chairmen and heads of various religions are all members of the CCP.

The remodeling of two ancient religions has made Protestants and Catholics refuse to acknowledge the “Three-selves Patriotic Movement Committee,” and various followers of the two religions do not acknowledge the church hierarchy mandated by the CCP. Many followers refuse to attend the state-sanctioned churches, and instead have spontaneously organized family churches (also called underground churches) of their own.

The result has been a crackdown on the Protestants and Catholics who support the underground churches.

Many followers have suffered the CCP’s brutal attacks and persecution for a long time.

Recently, followers of underground churches in Beijing, Henan, Xinjiang, Hubei, Jiangxi, Fujian, and other provinces have experienced severe persecution. As the Chinese government applies systematic measures to suppress underground churches, which the CCP refers to as “heretical,” it has assumed unprecedented jurisdiction to further suppress religious beliefs.

Recently, just before a U.S. delegation monitoring religious freedom visited China, five American church leaders in Henan Province’s Luoyang City and Yichuan County were arrested by the Luoyang City Police on August 15. Four of them, including a couple, were arrested along with 27 Chinese family church pastors. The arrests occurred around 9:00 am, while the underground church was holding a meeting.

Another US church leader and a Chinese pastor named Wan Da were arrested by two plainclothes policemen at around 1:00 pm on the same day, while they were walking down the street. It is believed that the five Americans were all from the same tourist group. Their names have not been released, and their whereabouts are still unknown.

On August 13, 10 Church leaders from Southeastern China were released from detention; they had been arrested on August 2 in Hubei. Two US theology students were arrested at the same time. Some of the arrested people reportedly had their arms burned with lit cigarettes or were stuck with needles, or suffered other forms of torture.

Ms. Lian Tonggui was stripped from the waist down, and then beaten with a special bamboo stick until she was bleeding. She is still in pain, and it is possible that the injuries have caused permanent damage.

There are two other followers still in custody at this time, 38 year-old Ms. Gu Junqing and 60 year-old Ms. Ren Daoyun. Ms. Ren, from Zaoyang County in the Hubei Province, was hosting a meeting. According to an eyewitness, she was beaten repeatedly, and passed out several times during the ordeal.

On August 11, at 9:00 am, the police raided a Sunday-school teacher-training class in Jiangxi Dongxiang County in the Xiaogang Town Zhenxi Area of Xinjian Village. Approximately 20 police arrived in 8 squad cars, and surrounded the church where 35 college and high-school students and some church leaders were gathered.

The policemen searched the followers for money, and then loaded a lot of church property into the police cars. Several female followers asked for a receipt for the confiscated property. Upon hearing this request, the police began beating the women. All of the followers were then arrested; and most were not released until 8:00 pm that evening. Up to six followers were detained by the Criminal Affairs Department, and they are still awaiting prosecution. The people awaiting trial are Xu Meifang, Zhao Jie, Zhang Shuming, Wu Jiewang, Zhu Guanzhu, and Zhu Xiaochun. Another person, 42 year-old, Ms. Xu Chahua, was arrested on the morning of August 15.

The authorities sealed off a 56 year-old woman’s home in Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region on August 1. The woman, known only as “Amina” was forced out of her home because she taught the ancient Koran. The authorities confiscated 23 copies of the Koran, 56 textbooks addressing the fundamental knowledge of the Koran, some manuscripts, and other materials. The police also took Amina and her students away. Amina’s students were between 7 and 20 years old.

In another case, which occurred on August 7, 11:00 am, the police raided a family church in Xinjiang Hejing County during a worshipping service. Approximately 30 Christians were arrested. About 10 female followers were ordered to strip naked in front of a crowd of onlookers. Those who resisted were severely beaten.

Because of the embarrassment and fear resulting from this humiliating treatment, a female follower hit her head against a wall in an attempt to kill herself.

The whereabouts of three church leaders Song Jun, Liang Fanglan, and He Jiangwei are still unknown. It was reported that Ma Yi, Deng Ping, and a police officer with badge number 131277, from the Hejing County Public Safety Bureau National Security Regiment, were the perpetrators of the interrogation and torture that occurred.

According to the China Aid Association personnel in China, from July to August in Henan Province, Gushi County, in Lizhuang Town, Xuzhai Town, Qiaogou Town and Fenggang Town, authorities arrested 400 – 500 followers of unlicensed Protestant and Catholic churches. The members arrested come from as many as 15 different family churches. Because they left the “Three-selves Patriotic Movement Committee,” supported by the CCP, and established their own churches, they were accused of being “against society and the three-selves.” They were released after paying 2,000 – 5,000 Yuan fines.

Beijing family church leader Cai Zuohua was arrested on September 11 of last year, because he paid for the printing of copies of the Bible and other religious books. His wife Xiao Yunfei, her brother Xiao Gaowen, and her sister-in-law Hu Jinyun were arrested on September 27 in Hunan. Nearly a year after the arrest, Cai Zhuohua was tried in the Beijing Haidian District court on July 7. During the trial, the Religious Control Department categorized the Bible and other classical religious texts as “illegal religious publications.”

The China Aid Association revealed that the secret documents recently obtained from Shanxi Datong City and Hubei Shayang County described in detail the Chinese government’s systematic suppression of religious “heresy.” The local Cult Problem Prevention and Management leadership office issued the secret documents on January 23 and 28, 2005. The briefing defined the word “cult” in such a broad way that it provided extensive room for the government to further suppress religious beliefs.

A Falun Gong practitioner is assaulted by police and soldiers in Tiananmen Square in Beijing. (Clearwisdom.net)
A Falun Gong practitioner is assaulted by police and soldiers in Tiananmen Square in Beijing. (Clearwisdom.net)

According to the Voice of America, Christianity has spread rapidly in China in the past 20 plus years. Although Buddhism and Taoism are still the two largest religions in China, followers of Christianity and Christian churches continue to emerge in the rural areas of China. The momentum of this development has attracted attention. Statistics have indicated that there are over 35 million Christians registered in the government-controlled national churches, but membership in the underground churches is estimated to be at 80 to 100 million.

Facing the increasingly brutal suppression by the CCP, a Beijing Christian named Mr. Hua said that the CCP’s persecution of Christians reminded him of the massive persecution of Falun Gong practitioners who are suffering the same fate. Falun Gong is a traditional Chinese form of meditation and exercise that also has a spiritual component. People who practice Falun Gong conduct themselves according to Truth, Compassion, and Tolerance. The practice of Falun Gong has been outlawed and severely persecuted in China.

Speaking about the situation of the persecution of Falun Gong in China, as well as the persecution of Christianity, Mr. Hua said, “Although our faiths are different, we all are victims. When I was in a village in Shanxi, I saw how well those Falun Gong practitioners had done, as they had distributed materials that revealed the persecution of Falun Gong all over the village, and they had posted slogans such as “Falun Dafa is good,” everywhere. I also thought, if we Christians could also stand up to the CCP, uphold our faith in God, and resist the persecution together with Falun Gong practitioners, it would be the death knell of the CCP. We could follow Falun Gong’s way of peacefully resisting spiritual and religious persecution.”

Mr. Hua sang the following song before he left:

“My heart does not stop following your footsteps as you move forward. Although there is grief in my heart, I still stick out my chest and hold my head up.

“I still earnestly believe there is light in darkness. The sun of justice appears again, shining upon my heart.

“There is spring in the severe winter after all, God has bestowed upon me the crown of life. Cheers of joy from your glorious holy palace give me even more strength. I will see your kind and loving face at last.”