The totalitarian efforts to suppress and control Christian faith in China have taken a disturbing turn that reflects Beijing’s greater Orwellian aspirations of social control.
In the communist nation, in which it is already quite dangerous to be a Christian, some churchgoers must now submit to facial and fingerprint scanning when they come to church.
According to Bitter Winter, an online magazine exposing China’s human rights abuses and religious oppression, government thugs set up two biometric scanning stations at the entrance of the Muyang Church in Hubei. Now, before being allowed in to worship, Christians must line up to be scanned in order for their government to more efficiently spy on them and impose punishment for their thoughtcrimes.
Bitter Winter reports:
“A believer revealed to Bitter Winter that over a month ago, the local Two Chinese Christian Councils required all meeting venues established by Three-Self churches in Huangshi city to take believers’ fingerprints and put on file their personal and family information.
The churchgoer is disturbed by the order since the requirement not only puts members of congregations under the government’s constant tracking and surveillance but can also implicate their family members and relatives. He added that those relatives who are civil servants or Communist Party members would be most likely punished or have restrictions imposed on their activities; this can even negatively impact their promotion at work.”
These devices, Bitter Winter’s pseudonymized author writes, are growing in popularity within the Hubei province, citing a source who likened the process to “punching in at work” when they attended worship.
“Clearly, hi-tech surveillance has become an essential tool for the CCP to regulate and suppress religious belief,” Bitter Winter continues. “Unlike house churches, members of Three-Self churches are seemingly allowed to hold religious gatherings. In reality, though, intrusive surveillance systems, such as the Sharp Eyes Project, have long been introduced into state-run churches, with cameras installed even in washrooms of some places of worship, to ensure comprehensive monitoring.”
According to Open Doors USA’s World Watch List, religious persecution is intensifying under the control of the Communist Party:
Since the Communist Party took over, the implementation of the regulations on religion, the treatment of religious groups, especially Christians, became much harsher across the country. Crackdowns against Christians happen countrywide and in both state-approved and non-registered churches. The youth are increasingly being removed from church life; worship is monitored via CCTV and spies; and teachers and medical workers are told they are not allowed to have any religious affiliation.
All churches are perceived as a threat if they become too large, too political or invite foreign guests. A policy of “sinicizing” the church is becoming increasingly influential as the Communist Party is relying strongly on Chinese cultural identity to stay in power. The new restrictions on internet, social media and NGOs—and the new regulations on religion—are all seriously limiting freedom.
Back in March, a speech given by Xu Xiaohong, head of the Three-Self Patriotic Movement (TSPM), the regime-organization which oversees government-approved Protestant churches, revealed that the Bible itself was a target of “sinicism,” or the practice of forcing conformity to the Communist Party.
According to the Acton Institute:
Xu made it clear that Protestant churches in China—which, as he and everyone else in the regime knows, are spreading at an impressive rate throughout China’s special economic zones—will be expected to incorporate “the values of socialism” into their theology and develop a stronger “national consciousness.”
Most ominously, this includes producing a new translation of the Bible. It takes no genius to recognize what translation really means in the context of an officially atheist regime which has demonstrated its intention to subjugate any organization remotely considered a potential source of liberty. The translation, Xu also revealed, would be accompanied by numerous annotations from various Chinese sources to make the text “more Chinese.” We can safely assume that the regime has in mind far more than just benign references to Confucius.
Saints, this should shake us to our very core.
It is often said that the blood of the martyrs is the seed of the church—and how true it is! In spite of such intense persecution, China is experiencing unprecedented revival. These bold men and women surely fear for their safety and that of their families, but God’s sheep will not be kept from their Shepherd!
We simply must not neglect to be on our knees in prayer for our brothers and sisters in China, in North Korea, in Turkey, in Nigeria, and all over the world.
While we have the liberty in the West to become apathetic, compromising, and spineless Christians, each and every day these saints soak in God’s Word and give Him the glory never knowing if that day might be their last.
The time for Christian apathy in the West is rapidly coming to an end as well. Looking at the advances the totalitarian left has made on our shores, how much longer can we expect to worship the Lord in peace and liberty?
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