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An official seal closing a church. - Photo: ChinaAid www.chinaaid.org
An official seal closing a church.
Photo: ChinaAid

As the Chinese government institutes new religious guidelines, churches throughout the country are facing significant problems from authorities at the local, provincial and national levels. New policies are pressuring churches to align with government ideologies in an attempt to "unify national thought."

As a result, crosses are being torn down and authorities are ordering churches to sing patriotic songs and hang the national flag. Unregistered "house" churches are also being pressured to join along with the registered churches, where they would be under more control of the authorities.

Even registered churches have not been spared. Since the beginning of the year, more than 20 of them -- including those that are registered -- have been closed in the northern province of Qinghai. The associate secretary-general of the official Three-Self Patriotic Movement (TSPM) has written a letter of protest against the closures.

Churches refusing to join the official TSPM movement, however, are facing the most opposition. Officials have forced landlords to stop renting to churches. Pastors have been fined. Christians of a church in Henan province were forced to sign a letter committing to follow the Communist Party and not Christianity.

For members of the Zion Church in Beijing, officers promised church attendees good jobs and better schools for their children if they committed to leaving the church. Six branches of the Zion Church were recently closed by authorities with claims that these members have refused registration.

These are only a few of the many ways in which Christians within China have been threatened and harassed because of their faith in Christ. For more information on the opposition facing Chinese believers, go to our country report.

In the midst of this increasing storm of opposition, pray that the Christians of these harassed Chinese churches will hold firmly onto their faith, anchored to the Rock of Ages. May their church members have the right words to say when confronted by governing authorities (Luke 12:11-13). Ask that pressure will be placed on the Chinese government to respect the country's constitutional freedom of religion by allowing people to worship the God of all creation.