It is becoming increasingly difficult for Christians to practice their faith in communist China as persecution intensifies against the faithful. Now authorities are targeting online Bible studies.
International Christian Concern (ICC) reports that on August 11, a Christian in China’s Yunnan Province received an administrative penalty notice from the local Ethnic and Religious Affairs Bureau (ERAB). The bureau accused him of hosting illegal religious education training online.
According to the Chinese Christian Fellowship of Righteousness, one of their members, Brother Zhang Wenli, was fined a hefty fine of 20,000 RMB (approximately US$2,870), issued by the city’s Linxiang District ERAB. of Lincang, for his unauthorized activities.
The notice cited section 41 of the Religious Affairs Regulations 2018, which states that “non-religious groups, non-religious schools, non-religious activity sites and temporary activity sites which are not duly designated as religious cannot carry out religious activities, accept religious donations, religious training…”
He was asked to stop his activities. If he objected to the opinion, he could submit a written appeal to ERAB within three days of receiving it.
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Father Francis Liu told the ICC that Brother Zhang was not asking for donations, but simply hosting an online Bible study and still being targeted by the authorities.
The ICC says the goal of the government action is to coerce church members into joining state-sanctioned churches and is part of the government’s overall crackdown.
CBN News reported earlier this month that the communist regime has begun inspecting church-printed books, photo albums, newspapers and literature in an effort to further regulate religious affairs.
Articles published by a church must have permission from specific institutions responsible for religious publications to be printed, and their distribution is limited to a certain number of people.
A Bureau of Religious Affairs insider told religious liberty and human rights magazine Bitter Winter that “even materials printed for personal use are purged. It’s even illegal to print unofficial Bibles.” downloaded from the Internet”.
The government is now forcing churches and households to replace crosses, religious symbols and images of Jesus with portraits of Chinese Communist leaders Xi and Mao.
Nearly 250 crosses were removed from churches in one province alone earlier this year.
“As crosses are removed across the country, those who refuse to cooperate will be accused of opposing the Communist Party,” a local Christian told Bitter Winter. “We are under pressure to give up our faith, but we will persevere.”
CBN News also reported that Christians receiving social benefits must remove Christian images and symbols from their homes and replace them with images of their Communist overlords.
“All poor households in the city have been ordered to display pictures of Mao Zedong,” a local pastor told Bitter Winter. “The government is trying to eliminate our belief and want to become God instead of Jesus.”
A church member in one of the villages recalled how authorities entered his home and destroyed a calendar with a picture of Jesus on it, then replaced it with a portrait of Mao instead.
“Imoverished religious households cannot receive money from the state for nothing – they have to obey the Communist Party for the money they receive,” he explained.
In April, the city government of Xinyu in southeastern Jiangxi province withheld funds from a disabled Christian (about $14) if the believer continued to attend worship services.
And in Poyang County, Jiangxi, an elderly Christian woman was taken off the government’s help list because she said “thank God” after receiving her monthly check (about $28).
In May, a government official in the eastern province of Shandong broke into a Christian’s home and displayed portraits of Mao and Chairman Xi Jinping, then said, “They are the greatest gods. If you want to adore someone, it’s them. .”