by Karen Faulkner, Worthy News Correspondent
(Worthy News) - Having relaxed its COVID-19 restrictions, in April the Chinese government resumed and intensified its crack-down on churches, the Christian Post reports. At least 48 Three-Self churches and meeting places were reportedly shut down in Yugan County in the province of Jiangxi from April 18 to 30. Over 10 percent of the more than 1 million residents of Yugan County are Protestants attending some 300 official Three-Self churches.
According to a report by religious liberty group Bitter Winter, in addition to churches being shut down, a great number of churches in cities including Jiujiang, Fuzhou, Fengcheng, and Shangrao were also ordered to remove crosses from their buildings. The Chinese government considers to be illegal any church that is not part of the government-controlled Three-Self Patriotic Movement.
Open Doors USA’s World Watch List has ranked China as one of the worst countries in the world when it comes to persecution of Christians. According to the organization, the government perceives it is threatened by churches that become too large or political or that invite foreigners, the Christian Post reports.
Open Doors President David Curry said that even before the pandemic, he had “witnessed first-hand how the Chinese government is using mass surveillance and data modeling to monitor and punish citizens who choose to attend church or share religious material.”
Referring to government actions since pandemic restrictions were eased, Gina Goh, a regional manager for Southeast Asia at International Christian Concern, said: “In recent weeks, we have seen an increased number of church demolitions and cross removals on state-sanctioned churches across China, as house church gatherings continue to face interruption and harassment.” Moreover, Ms. Goh said: “It is deplorable that the local authorities not only conducted this raid without proper procedure but deployed excessive use of force against church members and bystanders.”