As the world commemorates the 25th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre today, leaders maintain that Christianity in the People’s Republic of China is growing rapidly in spite of continued persecution by the nations Communist government.
The Brookings Institute recently held a panel discussion in Washington DC titled "Christianity in China: A Force for Change?" Experts claim the 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre motivated the underground Church and continues to impassion believers.
"The really committed, devout believers will be increasingly strengthened in their faith by this 'winds of persecution' and honestly the church buildings may be torn down, but that doesn't mean the congregations themselves have scattered," Carsten Vala, assistant professor at the Political Science Department of Loyola University Maryland and one of the panelists, told The Christian Post.
In advance of the 25th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre, Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW) reports that Chinese human rights lawyers, activists and artists have been detained and disappeared for offenses as small as gathering to talk about what happened in 1989. Those who have been released have been warned not to participate in any kind of remembrance activity.
According to CSW dozens of churches in Zhejiang Province have had all or parts of their structure removed or demolished, or have been threatened with demolition. The churches affected include both Protestant and Catholic, registered and unregistered. Some have had signs removed, while others have been completely demolished; almost all have been ordered to remove religious symbols, most often the cross.
Rev. Zhang Boli, chief pastor at Washington Harvest Chinese Christian Church, a panelist at the Brookings Institute conference, confirmed to Christian Post authorities have cracked down on Christian churches.
"Recently we have seen some changes in the Chinese government's policy towards religion," said Boli via an interpreter. "The reason that caused them to decide to make those changes is because Christianity is moving very, very quickly in China."
Publication date: June 4, 2014