In the days before Christmas, I spent some time discussing the persecution Christians are facing in the Middle East. Both ISIS and Iran are up to their usual tactics. However, the Middle East is not the only region in the world where Christians are being oppressed for practicing their beliefs. In China, the ruling Communists are doing typical Communist things and cracking down on the congregations there. Yesterday, the Associated Press ran a story on it. In particular, this section stood out to me:
This week, authorities in Wenzhou — known as China’s Jerusalem because it has half of the province’s 4,000 churches — have banned all Christmas celebrations or related activities in the city’s kindergartens and grade schools.
“We had guidance on foreign holidays such as Christmas in the past, but this year marks the first time we issued a clearer notice,” an education official was quoted as saying in a local, government-run newspaper on Wednesday.
Churches in Wenzhou and elsewhere in Zhejiang were first told last year to turn off any spotlights shining on their crosses at night. A few months later, the congregations were ordered to remove the crosses or face forced demolitions.
Resistance by local Christians has led to violent protests, bloody clashes and arrests of pastors and churchgoers. At least two people — one pastor and one churchgoer — remain in police custody for their acts to defend the cross, said Zhang Kai, a Christian rights lawyer.
The persecution Christians are facing in China is not as brutal as it is for those in much of the Middle East, but that does not mean we should be neglecting the Chinese faithful. The oppression faced by Tibetan Buddhists has gotten a lot of coverage over the years, but what the Communist Party has tried to do to Christians across China is not much different. As the article notes, the number of Christians in China is growing. The state’s official numbers put the population at 23 million, but outside scholars have estimated as many as 100 million in the country. Regardless of whether either is true or if the number is somewhere in between, this constantly increasing number represents a threat to the ruling Communists, as the official count of members in the Chinese Communist part is 85 million.
So, even as we persevere against the threats to religious freedom we face here in the United States, remember that there are many people across the world that have it much worse than we do. China Aid is a charity founded expressly to help Christians in China. In fact, Xiqiu “Bob” Fu, who started the organization, was one of the leaders of the Tiananmen Square protests. Consider a donation to his group or one like it, if you can spare the money.