World

Charity leader: Persecution of Christians should be concerning to all

Egypt’s Coptic Christians have endured brutal persecution in Egypt since the removal of former President Hosni Mubarak.

The leader of a prominent Christian charity says everyone – governments included – should be concerned about the persecution of Christians worldwide because they are “a force for good.”

Christian Today reported Henrietta Blyth, CEO of the U.K. branch of Open Doors, said, “For too long it has been assumed that standing up for persecuted Christian minorities was something for churches to concern them with, not secular civil society.”

She explained, “Again and again a minority Christian population within a nation is a force for good – caring not just for themselves, but others around them.”

That means, she said, the violent persecution of millions of Christians around the globe should be more than a “niche concern.”

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“By supporting these Christian minorities, I believe we are supporting a more civil and less troubled future for the nations themselves – and that benefits everyone,” she said.

Persecution of Christians long has been the most pervasive type of religious discrimination worldwide, and Open Doors annually ranks the offending nations.

Reggie Littlejohn, president of Women’s Rights Without Frontiers, recently noted the testimony of a Chinese lawyer who had contacted her but asked to remain anonymous.

Littlejohn wrote: “The illusion that the Chinese government is our benevolent friend needs to be broken. The Chinese Communist Party is a brutal, totalitarian regime. Appeasement diplomacy has not worked. All governments of conscience need to stand strong against the hideous human rights atrocities of this pernicious regime.”

The lawyer’s testimony:

Reggie, please tell the world about the terrible suffering of Christians in China. There has been a harsh revision of the regulations regarding religions in China, and the Chinese government has since tightened up its controls in all religions, including Christians.

Foreigners look at Shanghai and are impressed with the wealth and apparent modernity of China. But they don’t see the terrible atrocities committed in the “reeducation camps” in Xinjiang, among the Uyghur Muslims. And they don’t see how the Christians are being persecuted as well.

As an attorney in China, I worked closely in the court system. The Chinese court system is not an independent branch of the government, like the American court system. There is no separation of powers in China. The Chinese courts are controlled by the government. They are designed to execute national policy, not justice.

In the courts, I was told that Christianity was the “opium of the people,” designed to pollute Chinese minds and overturn the Communist government. The Chinese government and its court system regard Christianity as a threat, an enemy, because Communism is atheistic, and they believe that Christianity will make the country unstable. They want Christianity to stay small.

This is true of all religions. The CCP also heavily persecutes Tibetan Buddhists, Uyghur Muslims and Falun Gong practitioners. Anyone who worships a divine being is the enemy of the Chinese Communist Party.

When the CCP arrests a pastor, the criminal charge is that he is a “traitor” who is “threatening national security.” These pastors have no right to legal representation. If they have someone brave enough to be their lawyer, the pastor can be beaten up before seeing that lawyer. And their attorney can be beaten as well.

Though some are real Christians, many pastors of the official, registered churches are not believers. They are government workers, paid by the government. This is one reason that many Christians choose not to go to the Three-Self, officially registered churches.

“Three-Self” is a characteristically Chinese way of abbreviating “self-governance, self-support, self-propagation.” For example, Catholic believers in China are not allowed to accept the leadership of pope. Chinese churches can have no relationships with churches outside of China. They cannot receive foreign funding, teaching or leadership.

There are two huge changes in the law regarding religious practice in China.

First, the new law greatly expands the government departments that can persecute religious believers. Under the previous law, only the Religious Affairs Bureau would enforce religious restrictions. Under the new law, every layer of government can regulate religious affairs. The fact that there are so many more officials cracking down on unregistered churches puts tremendous pressure on the members of those churches. As part of President Xi’s crackdown, Chinese Christians are facing the most persecutions since the Cultural Revolution in the 1960s.

I know of an incident in which some Chinese Christian missionaries went to a Christian conference. This was November 2018, in Thailand. Chinese Communist spies also went to this conference and secretly recorded the attendees. Many of the missionaries were arrested upon their return to China.

Friends of mine were watching a documentary regarding Tiananmen Square in their own living room in Shenzhen, a city in Guangdong province. They were arrested and remain under surveillance.

Second, the new law makes informal gatherings clearly illegal. The churches have no freedom of assembly. If a group of believers gathers to pray, and they are not registered, the new law makes this gathering strictly forbidden. Before, such gatherings were strongly discouraged, but not technically illegal.

Blyth’s comments followed promises from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office that a new program of targeted sanctions will be used to support religious minorities.

Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said, “Our new global human rights regime will allow the UK to protect people of all religions … against serious human rights violations and abuses, and ensure the perpetrators are sent a clear message that the UK will not tolerate their atrocious actions.”

The U.K.’s Christian Institute noted that in some countries Christians are told they must give up their faith if they want food.

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