Just a few short weeks ago, the U.S. State Department issued its International Religious Freedom Report for 2016, which revealed that communist China, though it claims its citizens enjoy religious freedoms, still maintains an exceedingly heavy hand over people of faith.
According to Breitbart, the report stated that China’s government routinely “physically abused, detained, arrested, tortured, sentenced to prison, or harassed adherents of both registered and unregistered religious groups.” That includes members of Christian congregations known as “house churches” that didn’t have permission from the government to operate or maintain places of worship.
Sadly, this is nothing new for a country where atheism is demanded of those who are ranking members of the Communist Party or military. Though the Obama administration had designated China as a “Country of Particular Concern” for religious rights abuses in 2016, no real sanctions were ever imposed. That emboldened the Chinese government to feel free to crack down on those with unapproved religious faiths.
An example of this crackdown on the faithful was recently seen in late August in the town of Wangcun, near the city of Changzi in the Shanxi province. Several priests and members of an unofficial Catholic church were injured after being beaten in a clash with security officers while stopping wrecking crews from demolishing an old church the congregation owned, according to AsiaNews.
The attempted demolition failed, at least for the moment, as the priests were joined by some 2,000 church members to halt the destruction of the nearly century-old building. About 200 members of the group remained at the site overnight to continue protecting it.
According to the traditionalist Catholic organization FSSPX, the church remained standing as of Sunday.
The church had previously been seized by the local communist committee in 1992 and converted into a factory, but had been officially handed back over to the people to resume being used as a church in 2012, and full restoration had just recently begun. Now, however, the local Communist Party intends to remove all structures on the property to turn it into a public plaza.
Unfortunately, this church is but one of many that has been targeted in a “campaign to destroy churches and suppress the rise of Christianity” in China, according to The Christian Post.
Communist China has gotten away with oppressing and persecuting Christians for decades, and for the past eight years, the Obama administration looked the other way. But now that President Donald Trump is beginning to apply economic pressure on China to change their ways, perhaps better treatment for religious minorities in the region will be up for discussion, too.