By Jon Dougherty
Throughout Western culture, Christians have become increasingly persecuted over the past 20 years, though because they don’t have a strong lobby in Washington and boatloads of cash to throw at congressional candidates, they are pretty much at the mercy of Left-wing autocrats and authoritarians.
American Christians caught a huge break when Donald Trump became president was elected, however. Not only has he proven to be a huge defender of all religions, but he has also ensured that Christians, in particular, are no longer singled out by legal and punitive actions aimed at silencing their voices. And as a backup, he brought along Vice President Mike Pence, former governor of Indiana, noted for his signing of a law aimed at protecting religious freedoms in his state.
Still, no matter how badly American Christians have been treated by the Left, at least they aren’t being legally persecuted and physically tortured (yet) like their brothers and sisters in China.
As Asia Times reports, Christians there are forced to worship underground out of fear that discovery will bring pain and misfortune meted out by a godless Communist government that sees itself as China’s official ‘state religion.’
The news site notes:
In modern China, not all religions are persecuted – there are state-approved bodies that oversee Buddhist, Taoist, Muslim, Catholic, Protestant and other groups. But many are. Along with Muslim Uighurs, the Falun Gong qigong sect and Tibetan Buddhists, the CAG, considered a cult, is near the top of Beijing’s religious hit list. It is a long list – with a long history.
For centuries, Beijing has maintained a list of “Xie jiao:” cults which could undermine state power. And certainly, cults have left a bloody smear on Chinese history.
In 1850, a Christian convert named Hong Xiuquan, convinced he was a brother of Jesus, sought to establish the “Taiping” – a heavenly kingdom on earth. The Qing reacted. Slaughter raged across China before the movement was finally annihilated in 1864. The dead may have reached 30 million, and many historians consider the Taiping Rebellion to be the second bloodiest war in history, behind World War II.
Now 21st century, Xi-era Beijing is also in crackdown mode, said Massimo Introvigne, an Italian Catholic and founder of the Center for Studies on New Religions, or CESNUR. “Deng Xiaoping thought that religion would disappear in 300 years, but in the meantime, should be tolerated,” he said. “Xi Jinping promulgated a new law in February 2018 that is much stricter than previous laws.”
It’s not clear how many Christians live in China; again, it’s not popular (or safe) for Chinese to wear their Christianity on their sleeves. One estimate has put the figure at about 50 million (not a lot, percentage-wise, in a country of more than 1.4 billion).
Many are believed to belong to the underground Church of Almighty God, or CAG – sometimes known as “Eastern Lightning.”
Hundreds of thousands of members are believed to be in jail, as China spares no resources in tracking them down and rounding them up. That’s why scores are fleeing. Asia Times notes:
The church itself, in a self-published report, claims that 400,000 CAG members were arrested between 2011-2017 and that 101 died. Last year, the church says 11,000 members were arrested, and that 20 of them. Church members showed Asia Times gruesome photos of what they claim were bodies of believers who died under state torture, which were returned to families for burial.
The US State Department has also weighed in. In its Religious Freedom Report, it criticizes the repression of “house Christians” including CAG.
- Follow Jon Dougherty on Twitter at @JonDougherty10
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