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China’s Intolerance for Religious Freedom Nearing Breaking Point

August 17th, 2016

The Great Wall of China.

Chinese persecution of Christians has increased since President Xi JinPing took office in 2013.

We often talk about religious oppression in the United States. From increased TSA pat downs infringing on personal religions to issues surrounding the separation of church and state, there are a multitude of governmental conventions that suppress U.S. citizens’ right and ability to practice a religion of their choosing. Despite our country’s sometimes unwillingness to accommodate the religion of others, we must remember that there are other places in the world, such as China, that take religious persecution to a different level.

In April of this year, Ding Cuimei was buried alive by a bulldozer as she attempted to stop the government-ordered demolition of a Christian church in China. Although the demolition crew that buried Cuimei was subsequently arrested, this event is symptomatic of ongoing Christian persecution in China.

Another example of China’s religious intolerance is demonstrated by government campaign to remove crosses from churches. In less than 24 months, it is estimated the Chinese government has torn down up to 1,700 crosses. Many times, these actions are met with violent reaction from Christian practitioners.

The History of Religious Practice in China

The history of Christianity in China is complex and goes back thousands of years. Although people have practiced Christianity in China for centuries, the religion has only recently gained momentum. Historically, China has practiced religions such as Buddhism and Taoism but studies now show an increasingly diverse faith following.

As the country became more influenced by the rest of the world, particularly the Western world, the Christian religion began to spread. In particular, Protestant Christianity has become the fastest growing religion in China and many speculate that there could be as many 160 million Christians in China by 2025. During the 20th century, however, China’s political part became largely Communist, which practices atheism rather than religion. Communism and Christianity are vastly different ideologies and as such, conflict is seemingly unavoidable.

Political reaction to this rapid growth of Christian followers is no doubt reflected in the increased discord among the Communist party and Christians and although Christianity is highlighted in these disputes, it should be noted that in parts of China the government has banned fasting for the Muslim holiday of Ramadan as well.

What is the Future of Christianity and Religious Freedom in China?

Many point fingers to Chinese President Xi JinPing and his influence on strengthening the Communist Party under Maoist ideologies as the reason for increased violence towards other ideological groups. Essentially, this means that under current policy, not only are religious practices under threat, but really any group or individual that holds beliefs, and disseminates information about those beliefs may be facing significant hurdles in the future.  Despite the religious persecution of the Christian faith as discussed above, its continued growth could make China the largest Christian nation by 2030.

Globalization has brought tremendous advances to our world cultures; however, with that also comes increased change and the fears that are often associated with those changes. Although we often focus on issues happening in the United States, Universal Life Church is committed to following religious matters all over the world.  

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