Friday, June 3, 2011

The struggle of Christians in China

06/03/2011 China (NorthnumberlandToday) - Since China opened its doors to Western trade, her economic development exploded. China's people are enterprising, and only more so as communist officials gradually relaxed restrictions on private ownership.

Communist officials have also gradually relaxed restrictions against freedom of religion. Nevertheless, Chinese officials still exert tight control over churches through a Religious Affairs department that closely supervises churches. Many Chinese Christians, however, have refused government control and secretly organized house churches. While harassment of these churches has decreased, in some areas they are still persecuted.

Shouwang Church, in Beijing, is a house church of the "educated elite" that grew rapidly from an obscure Bible study group organized by pastor Jin Tianming. As more believers joined, 10 more house churches opened. They began renting office buildings to meet together as one body. However, on May 10, 2008 the armed forces disrupted one such service and ordered the church to stop worshipping. But since the Beijing Olympics were just around the corner, not much pressure was exerted.

After the Olympics, Shouwang Church grow and so decided to seek official recognition. However, registration was refused. In 2009 Shouwang purchased the second floor of the Dahong Science and Technology Tower in Beijing's Silicon Valley for US $4,000,000. When government pressure kept Shouwang Church from getting the key to the building, the church began to worship openly on the street. Members were arrested and some lost their jobs or apartments through government interference.
Shouwang Church's struggle reflects a deeper struggle over the legality of China's non-state- controlled churches.

Since 1978 greater economic freedom has focused people's attention more on personal benefit and less on political discontent. Although the government sees social benefit in churches, these churches are also regarded as a potential threat to the political monopoly position of communist leaders. As a result, they are wary of churches not directly under their control. Development of economic and religious freedom comes from a deep longing for freedom of thought and expression. (Source)

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