The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has intensified its persecution on non-state approved religions. Underground churches have been shut down and their leaders, like the pastor of Early Rain Covenant Church in Chengdu, have been detained. Activists say that the latest crackdown on religion has been the worst since the days of the Cultural Revolution during Mao Zedong’s era.

The impetus for the government to regain control is likely the government’s unease over the growing population of Christians, and their potential links to the West. Researchers believe the government is looking to domesticate the religion so it would do the bidding of the party.

Protestantism and Catholicism are two of five recognised religions in China, and the practice of other religions are prohibited. However, the religious institutions have to be registered with the government to run legally and adapt its teachings to follow party doctrine.

Read the full article on The Guardian: In China, they’re closing churches, jailing pastors – and even rewriting scripture


The Chinese government has been on a quest for religious control to prevent any foreign threats. Not only are they wary about Christianity, they are also constantly and intensively surveillancing Uighur Muslims in Xinjiang, the far west of China. There has been international concerns as large numbers of the Uighur Muslims are allegedly detained by the government in camps for ‘re-education’ purposes. Beyond these groups, there are other minority groups facing the wrath of the party.

Orthodox religious groups and institutions legally recognised by the state have to relinquish independence by agreeing to rules and surveillance from the state. This ensures that the religious teachings are aligned with the Chinese ruling party’s interests.

Questions for further personal evaluation:

  1. What are the trade-offs made if religious institutions want to be legally recognised by the Chinese government?
  2. How would you feel if you had to be practising your religion in an underground church?

Useful vocabulary:

  1. ‘inciting’: encouraging or stirring up
  2. ‘sanctioned’: give official permission or approval for
  3. ‘enshrined’: preserved

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