From South China Morning Post, 100 Christians snatched in overnight raids on underground Chinese church. China has begun harshly cracking down on churches this year, with an estimated 100,000 Christians arrested in 2018 compared to 3.700 in 2017. Churches are required to mount facial recognition cameras on the pulpit directed toward the congregation so that they can be monitored by the government.
About 100 worshippers at an unofficial church in southwestern China were snatched from their homes or from the streets in coordinated raids which began on Sunday evening.
Chinese authorities targeted members of the Early Rain Covenant Church across various districts of Chengdu, the provincial capital of Sichuan, in what appeared to be an effort to close down one of the country’s most prominent Protestant house churches…
“The police said our church is an illegal organisation and we cannot attend any more gatherings from now on.”
The Early Rain Covenant Church is one of China’s few unofficial house churches – Christian assemblies that operate without state sanction – and this is not the first time Wang and other members of the church have been detained.
While most of China’s Protestant house churches operate underground to avoid attracting official attention and control, the Early Rain congregation openly practises its faith, posting sermons online and evangelising on the streets.
Many house churches have been closed this year in China’s harshest religious suppression in decades…
From AP News, 9/10/18, Officials destroying crosses, burning bibles in China,
China’s government is ratcheting up a crackdown on Christian congregations in Beijing and several provinces, destroying crosses, burning bibles, shutting churches and ordering followers to sign papers renouncing their faith, according to pastors and a group that monitors religion in China.
The campaign corresponds with a drive to “Sinicize” religion by demanding loyalty to the officially atheist Communist Party and eliminating any challenge to its power over people’s lives…
From CBN News, 9/14/18, One Nation Under Xi? This is why Christian Persecution in China is Escalating
…Chinese Christians report authorities have urged church leaders to remove pictures of Jesus from their sanctuaries and replace them with patriotic posters, or posters of President Xi instead. They’ve suggested hymns be replaced with patriotic songs about the “wonderfulness of the Chinese Communist Party.”
Nettleton also said Chinese authorities are using advanced artificial intelligence software to monitor church attendees. “One pastor in Beijing not long ago was told by the government, ‘pastor we don’t mind if you continue holding your services, we just want to put this camera on your platform looking out at the audience and it’s attached to facial recognition software so that we can tell who comes to church on Sunday and who’s there and what they are doing and how involved they are,'” he said…
From Fr. John Peck’s blog The Early Christian Martyrs Who Refused to Make Pottery for a Pagan Festival:
Ss. Justa and Rufina were sisters born to a poor Christian family in Seville, Spain in the 3rd century. They helped support their family and many of the city’s poor by making pottery.
Remember that this was before Constantine, so Christians were still a persecuted minority and paganism reigned. Which is why it wasn’t particularly strange that they were asked to make pottery for a local pagan festival.
What should they do? The festival was important for their town. But as Christians, they believed the pagan festivals were gravely immoral and they wanted nothing to do with them.
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