Persecution of Christians has escalated in China recently, according to some reports.
Communist Chinese authorities have reportedly arrested Christian leaders and destroyed churches as part of an effort to stop what they call “cults.”
"Chinese authorities continued to harass, detain, imprison, and interfere with the religious activities of members of both registered and unregistered Protestant communities who ran afoul of government or party policy," said U.S. Rep. Chris Smith (R-N.J.).
Also in China, Catholics have been persecuted for practicing their faith outside of state-approved laws.
"The Patriotic Church, the Catholic Church, they are being targeted with church demolitions and other kinds of repression which we have not seen before. So there's a great deal of concern that religious freedom, as bad as it was, has further deteriorated in China,” Smith said.
In 2014, authorities in Zhejiang began destroying crosses at churches. Then in July, Pastor Zhang Shaojie was sentenced to 12 years in prison for “disrupting public order.” Later in the year, a Christian Canadian couple was also detained for “stealing state secrets.”
Finally, the year closed with the arrest of Christian Korean-American aid worker Peter Hahn, who was charged with embezzlement.
There are reports that the government plans to create a “Chinese Christian theology” and make a list of “legal” worship places.
However, China has reportedly built or renovated about 1,000 churches per year for the past five years. Also, the world’s largest Bible factory in Nanjing produced its 125-millionth copy in late 2014.
Publication date: January 8, 2015