Religious Persecution in China: Watching History Repeat

Written by: Zach Lipecki

The year is 1899, and the Chinese Boxer Rebellion has just begun with the killing of two priests in Juye County, China. What would follow over the course of the next two years was a dark, albeit short, time in Chinese history; thousands of Christians and foreign missionaries would be hunted and massacred simply because of their faith. Eventually, the killings would cease with the singing of the Boxer Protocol treaty in 1901, but this would not be the end of Christian persecution in China.

Flash forward 120 years, and history seems to be repeating itself. In the past few years, an increasing number of actions have been taken to suppress and eradicate religious practice in China. In fact, there are many laws that were enacted solely for this purpose. A Chinese Regulations on Religious Affairs law makes it illegal for anyone under the age of 18 to enter a church. Aside from this particular regulation, young Chinese citizens are targeted in schools across the nation. Chinese teachers, forbidden by law from having any personal religious affiliation, impart on their students harshly anti-Christian propaganda at the grade school level. The consequence of this is a young generation that could grow up to be almost entirely secular, their minds firmly implanted with communist indoctrination.

Furthermore, all citizens are forbidden by law from taking their religion outside of churches. Even within the churches, however, worshipers are not safe. In recent years, China has destroyed churches, jailed priests, and confiscated holy books, replacing them with communism-compatible versions. For this reason, many churches have fled to the “underground” in order to stave off unwanted attention. It’s important to note that this persecution is not limited to Christians only. The CCP is officially an atheist state, meaning that all religions are targeted: Christianity, Buddhism, Islam, and even native Chinese Taoism.  Chinese Muslims in particular have been hit hard. Many are not allowed to use their native languages and have been placed in internment camps for “Sinicism,” or being made more Chinese.

So why don’t these religious people leave China and escape persecution? Unfortunately, it’s very difficult for them to emigrate from China. Many religious people are placed on a watch list and trapped inside the border, unable to travel. If they can’t obtain a visa, then they can’t leave. The Chinese treatment of religious citizens is a despicable example of religious persecution, and it shows no signs of reversing course any time soon.