Xi Jinping, China’s president, has launched attacks against the ‘patriotic’ Christian church, an organization that has long co-existed with the government.
According to an article in the Wall Street Journal, the head pastor of China’s largest church, Gu Yuese, has been arrested on charges of embezzling from the church. Christians in China insist the charges are fabricated. He is reported being held in a secret “black jail,” notorious for deplorable conditions and even torture. “Not since the Cultural Revolution has the Chinese government gone after such a high-ranking church leader.”
History of persecution
Religious persecution has intensified since 2013 when President Xi Jinping assumed office. In 2014 the central government named religion one of four “severe challenges” to national security. Weeks later, a memo leaked, calling for provincial authorities to “see clearly the political issues behind the cross[es]” that dominate the architectural landscape in Zhejiang Province, urging them to limit the spread of Christianity.
Since then, the government has forcibly demolished more than 1,800 crosses across Zhejiang. In one particularly gruesome incident, police beat believers with electric batons after they gathered to protest the removal of a cross at Wenzhou Salvation Church. One man suffered a cracked skull. More than 95% of the torn-down crosses belonged to state-sanctioned churches, which had painstakingly registered with the government in an attempt to operate in accordance with official policy.
Government offers no compromise
“There was no compromise, no discussion—it’s an order, and you have to do it,” observes Fenggang Yang, director of the Center on Religion and Chinese Society at Purdue University. “For Christians in Zhejiang, this is a symbolic fight. The Christians treat the cross as very meaningful to their faith, to their Christian life. They don’t see the legal basis for the crosses’ removal.”
Ironically, Pastor Gu had been a vocal advocate for Chinese Christians practices their faith while obeying their government. But after the government attacked Christian churches in his area he called the crackdown “barbaric.” For that he lost his position on his district’s Christian Council and, days later, he was arrested.
Source: Wall Street Journal