Human rights watchdogs are worried that the Chinese communist regime is ramping up its crackdown on Christians throughout the communist country.
Recently, the US Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) raised the alarm about new measures adopted by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP).
The new authoritarian laws titled the Measures on the Management of Religious Clergy include demanding sanctioned churches to pledge full support to the CCP and a ban on house churches.
“The new Measures expand an invasive and comprehensive system of control and surveillance on clergy,” a USCIRF report reads.
“Article 3 of the Measures requires clergy — among other demands — to support the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) rule, the Chinese socialist political system, and the CCP’s ‘sinicization of religion’ policy, effectively imposing a political test to ensure clergies’ loyalty to the CCP.”
The laws are an attempt to tighten control of China’s five sanctioned religious groups which include the Buddhist Association of China, the Chinese Taoist Association, the Islamic Association of China, the Protestant Three-Self Patriotic Movement and the Chinese Patriotic Catholic Association.
All other religious activity outside of those bodies will now be banned and is punishable by the state.
Certain articles in the law describe “illegal religious activities” and “foreign infiltration using religion.”
“These vague provisions could be used as a broad pretext to crack down on independent religious groups, ethnoreligious minority groups, and religious groups with perceived foreign connections,” USCIRF warned.
According to the group China Aid, the new measures are designed to target those practicing their religions privately who already face scrutiny and arrest from government officials.
In its report, the USCIRF notes that the CCP have “detained and arrested scores of underground Catholic priests” since the law was enacted earlier this year.
“House churches across China are seeing an increased harassment from church raids, crackdown on their activities, to the detention of their leaders,” said Chinese Christian rights advocate Gina Goh.
“Beijing seeks to intimidate the leaders in hopes that the churches will dissolve due to fear. Their plot will not succeed, thanks to the resiliency of the Chinese house church. They survived the Cultural Revolution, and they will survive Xi’s era as well.”