David Curry, the CEO of the Christian charity Open Doors, warned that the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) of China is arresting Christians using the COVID-19 pandemic as an excuse to intensify its persecution of the Christian community, even punishing believers who attend online church ceremonies. Open Doors recently published its annual report of the most dangerous countries to practice Christianity. North Korea took the number one spot. China was ranked 17th on the list, mostly due to the fact that the strict government suppression of religions there resulted in a reduced number of incidents of mob-attacks on the Christian community.
“The policy of ‘Sinicizing’ the church is implemented across the country, as the Communist Party relies strongly on creating adherents to its Chinese Communist Party-line version of Chinese cultural identity in order to stay in power, and it limits whatever it perceives as a threat to its control on society. New restrictions on the internet, social media, and non-governmental organizations, and 2018 regulations on religion are strictly applied and seriously limit freedom. Churches are being monitored and closed down, whether they are independent or part of the Three-Self Patriotic Movement, the officially sanctioned Protestant church in China,” Open Doors said in a statement.
In 2020, China was ranked 23rd, meaning that it moved up six spots in a single year. When you look back three years, you’ll find that China has risen 26 places. Open Doors notes that this speedy rise in ranking represents how desperate the situation of Christians is becoming in the CCP’s China.
Curry points out that many Christians have turned to online congregations due to the pandemic, which made it easier for the Chinese regime to monitor them. There have been cases where Christians have been arrested for attending Zoom churches. In April 2020, police raided the homes of Early Rain Covenant Church on Easter Sunday and arrested six church leaders after authorities discovered that they were participating in a religious service through Zoom.
‘China has definitely cracked down on religion’
“They’re returning what I call the ‘government is God’ philosophy that they had when they were connected with the Soviet Union years ago… What’s unique about China is that they have the capacity and the will to roll out this very sophisticated surveillance system against Christians. And, of course, with COVID [the Chinese coronavirus], people are forced to watch church online,” Curry told Breitbart.
One of the strategies that China has adopted to suppress Christianity is by not allowing those aged 18 or lower to attend the church, thus cutting off the younger generation from their faith. Curry hopes that Joe Biden will continue President Trump’s policy of prioritizing religious freedom in foreign policy. The Trump administration has set up annual conferences that provide foreign ministers a platform to discuss how to boost religious freedom.
Over the past months, numerous incidents of government violence against Christians have come to light. In October, the Shanxi government desecrated the resting place of 20 Swedish missionaries who had worked in the region almost a hundred years ago. In July, the government of Lanling County’s Dazhongcun Town destroyed the crosses on churches.
One of the officials in the town publicly stated that all crosses have to be removed since “Christianity does not belong to China.” This cross-toppling activity has been going on for a couple of years. In December, it was reported that church crosses were being destroyed in Jiangxi, Shandong, and the Jiangxi provinces.