03/24/2013 China (ChinaAid) - ChinaAid's 2012 annual report on persecution of churches and Christians in China has sparked an online dialogue, with reactions ranging from support to doubts and even rejection. On Monday Feb. 25, Christianity Today ran two pieces by two experts on the church in China under the headline "China Isn't Trying to Wipe Out Christianity."
In response, ChinaAid wishes to point out first that those who question and doubt our 2012 annual report appear to have overlooked this key point: "In 2012, Christians and churches in China experienced a serious comprehensive escalation of government persecution. In comparing the total number of persecution cases, the number of people persecuted, the number taken into custody, the number sentenced, the number of abuse cases and the number of people abused with the same figures for 2011, the total of all six categories rose 13.1% over the previous year..." The report also lists "the Main Characteristics of and Reason Behind 2012 Persecution: To Eradicate House Churches."
The first CT piece, "China's Actions Are Not About Christianity," was written by Brent Fulton, president of ChinaSource and the editor of ChinaSource Quarterly. His basic point was, "On their face these numbers appear to be cause for serious alarm, and the China Aid report has in fact spawned headlines decrying the beginning of the end of the house church in China. However, upon closer examination these statistics do not support China Aid's assertion of a nationwide government-sponsored campaign against Christianity in China.
The problem here is three-fold.
First, the problem of persecution is indeed serious, and ChinaAid's Christian position is that the persecution of any church, not to mention that of thousands of Christians and their families, should always be considered serious. Incidentally, as Mr. Fulton correctly noted, it was news reports about our report that were "decrying the beginning of the end of the house church in China." We wish to emphasize that it is not ChinaAid's belief that this is "the beginning of the end of the house church in China" because we simply do not think that the Communist's state machinery can ever succeed in eradicating China's house churches: house churches have grown and spread to such an extent that no group is strong enough to contend with it. Just as happened with the persecution of the early Roman Church as well as the Communist Party's persecution of the church in Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union, Chinese government persecution will also fail.
Second, the conclusions in our report are supported by our investigations and data, and they show that the persecution in 2011 and into 2012 has been characterized by thorough investigations of house churches and eradication of those churches for which the government has set up files; this is all part of Phases 1 & 2 of the government's ten-year plan to eradicate house churches.
Third, the cases cited in the annual report come from all over China and are just the tip of the iceberg, but they have representative value. Mr. Fulton notes that "the China Aid report mentions only two cases involving Beijing house churches for the entire year." But if he thinks that the two persecution cases we listed for Beijing were the only two cases of persecution in the Chinese capital in all of 2012, he clearly does not understand the persecution situation that Beijing house churches face.
It's hard to imagine that anyone with a basic understanding of China's house churches would think that only two cases of house church persecution occurred in Beijing for the whole of 2012(Source).