The Chinese government has instituted a new wave of persecution against “illegal social organizations” which includes house churches and independent Christian groups.
Earlier in April, the Chinese Ministry of Civil Affairs (MCA) announced a new campaign to clamp down on groups which operate without approval of the Chinese regime.
The campaign was created to remove groups that do not support the government ahead of the 100th anniversary of the founding of the Chinese Communist Party.
The campaign has already begun in the province of Sichuan, which recently published a list of 84 “illegal social organizations” which will be targeted.
The list included several Christian groups, including the Early Rain Covenant Church, an underground Christian organization which has been heavily persecuted by the Chinese government in recent years.
“In the eyes of the Chinese government, any religious group that refuses to submit to the CCP, or even charity groups, are seen as ‘illegal organizations,’ for the government is fearful that these civil groups can become a force that overthrows them,” dissident Father Francis Liu told Radio Free Asia.
In order to legally practice Christianity in China, churches must be registered with the Chinese Communist government and obey strict regulations. In recent years, this has included incorporating state doctrine into sermons.
The desire to “sinicize” Christianity and ensure every church complies with Communist doctrine has led to renewed persecutions of independent churches.
This past year, persecutions have included the arrests and “disappearances” of Christian leaders.