A year has passed since China’s government published its Regulations on Religious Affairs. That document provided a heads-up to citizens about the ways the exercise of religion in China would be further restricted. Those laws will take effect in February 2018.
More consistency in application?
The revised regulations are designed to bring more conformity throughout China in applying what the religious can and cannot do. But there is vagueness in the new laws.
Brad Adams, Asia director of Human Rights Watch, says, “There’s nothing accidental about the vagueness – it gives officials the room they need to legitimize closing mosques, raiding religious meetings, ‘reeducating’ religious leaders, and censoring publications.”
Religious freedom is shrinking
“[The] implications for Chinese Christians remain to be seen, but it might well be that these directives find their way into new regulations affecting the Church in China,” an Asia analyst for Open Doors, who wished to remain anonymous, told World Watch Monitor last year. “Freedom in all sectors of society [has been] shrinking since Xi Jinping came into power, and there is evidence that the government is also tightening its grip on the Three Self Patriotic Movement [the state-approved Church].”
ChinaSource.org says, “The new religion regulations are sweeping in scope and, if fully enforced, could mean major changes for China’s unregistered church, not only in its worship and meeting practices, but also engagement in areas such as Christian education, media, and interaction with the global church. Yet the nature of these activities and, indeed, of much religious practice throughout China, makes enforcement extremely problematic.”
Our God reigns
316NOW, along with every other Christian group working in China, does not know how these new guidelines will impact its ministry or the lives of its students. We do know that our Savior is King of kings and Lord of lords. No one, including the most powerful governments, can frustrate his will. When the powerful plot against his Church, “the One enthroned in heaven laughs; the Lord scoffs at them” (Psalm 2:4). While we wait to see God’s derision, we hold the Lord’s Chinese Church in prayer. Please join us.