Religious Persecution in China: Watching History Repeat?

By Zach Lipecki

The year is 1899, and the Chinese Boxer Rebellion has just begun with the killing of two priests in Juye County, China. What would follow over the course of the next two years was a dark, albeit short, time in Chinese history; thousands of Christians and foreign missionaries would be hunted and massacred simply because of their faith. The killings would cease with the signing of the Boxer Protocol treaty in 1901, but this would not be the end of Christian persecution in China.

Flash forward 120 years, and history seems to be repeating itself. In the past few years, an increasing number of actions have been taken by the Chinese government to suppress and eradicate religious practices in China. A Chinese Regulations on Religious Affairs law makes it illegal for anyone under the age of 18 to enter a church. Chinese teachers, forbidden by law from having any personal religious affiliation, impart on their students harshly anti-Christian propaganda at the grade school level.

All citizens are forbidden by law from taking their religion outside of churches. Even within the churches, however, worshipers are not safe. In recent years, the Chinese government has destroyed churches, jailed priests, and confiscated holy books. For this reason, many churches have fled to the “underground” in order to stave off unwanted attention.

It’s important to note that this persecution is not limited to Christians only. The CCP is officially an atheist state, meaning that all religions are targeted: Christianity, Buddhism, Islam, and even Chinese Taoism. In particular, Chinese Muslims have been hit hard. Many are not allowed to use their native languages and have reportedly been placed in internment camps for “Sinicism,” or being made more Chinese.

Why don’t these religious people leave China and escape persecution? Unfortunately, it’s very difficult for them to emigrate from China. Many religious people are placed on a watch list and trapped inside the border, unable to travel. If they can’t obtain a visa, then they can’t leave. The Chinese treatment of religious citizens is a despicable example of religious persecution, and it shows no signs of reversing course any time soon.

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