Tag Archives: Underground Church

MUST-READ: Why Christianity is the most persecuted religion in the world

A very fine article from the normally ultra-liberal Toronto Star. (H/T Jojo)

Excerpt:

Virtually every human rights group and Western government agency that monitors the plight of Christians worldwide arrives at more or less the same conclusion: Between 200 million and 230 million of them face daily threats of murder, beating, imprisonment and torture, and a further 350 to 400 million encounter discrimination in areas such as jobs and housing. A conservative estimate of the number of Christians killed for their faith each year is somewhere around 150,000.

Christians are “the largest single group in the world which is being denied human rights on the basis of their faith,” the World Evangelical Alliance has noted.

In a report to a conference on Christian persecution hosted by the European Parliament last month, the U.S. Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life put it this way: while Muslims and Jews worldwide and Baha’is in Iran certainly suffer too, Christians were “harassed” by government factors in 102 countries and by social factors, such as mob rule, in 101 countries.

“Altogether, Christians faced some form of harassment in two-thirds of all countries,” or 133 nations, the report said. Muslims also face “substantial” harassment, the Pew report found, but in fewer countries.

Christians face harassment in more countries “than any other religious group,” a Pew Forum spokesperson told the Star.

Put in sharper focus, “at least” 75 per cent of all religious persecution in the world is directed against Christians, the conference was told.

The euphemistic term “harassment” encompasses vigilante and terrorist attacks against Christians in more than a dozen Muslim countries. In Sudan, an estimated 1.5 million Christians have been murdered by the Islamic Janjaweed militia, including some who were crucified. In Nigeria, 12 states have introduced sharia law. Thousands of Christians were killed in the ensuing violence.

In Saudi Arabia, the only faith permitted by law is Islam. Christians are regularly imprisoned and tortured on trumped-up charges of drinking alcohol, blaspheming or owning religious artifacts.

In Egypt, Coptic Christians are still reeling from a church attack last January in which eight worshippers were killed. “The situation is deteriorating and is very tense,” Sam Fanous, a leader of Toronto’s Coptic community, told the Star from Cairo. He said that after Friday Muslim prayers, streets fill with anti-Coptic protests.

In historically tolerant Indonesia, Islamic militias have bombed churches in majority Christian regions and killed or forcibly converted thousands.

China, meantime, continues to shutter “underground” churches and ship pastors to prison.

Read the whole thing. This is one-stop shopping on the persecution issue, and the sources are unimpeachable. Send it to your friends.

After decades of violent atheistic repression, Chinese youth embracing Christianity

Story from the National Post. (H/T No Apologies via Andrew)

Excerpt:

It is when Rev. Ezra Jin says there are about 3,000 underground Protestant church services being celebrated around the Chinese capital on this bright autumn Sunday, that you begin to get an idea of the leap of faith that is happening in this decidedly atheist country. Rev. Ezra is happily chatting in advance of his second service of the day at Beijing Zion Church, a grandiose name for the series of large and small conference rooms he presides over. They are located above a karaoke bar in an old-fashioned hotel deep in the Beijing suburbs. His is what is called a “house church.” It is not sanctioned by the Communist government, hence it is not legal. But as sometimes happens in China, it is tolerated – for the moment, anyway.

“For a long time, the government cracked down on house churches. But recently the situation changed,” he explained. “It has started to face up to the existence of house churches and make an effort to establish a formal relationship with them.” It’s not a perfect situation, he admits, but a vast improvement to what it was. “Ten years ago, house churches, like ours, wouldn’t dare to think they could have such a large space to develop,” he said. In recent years, “house” Protestants have been harassed, fined, beaten by police and even jailed for the temerity of shunning the officially sanctioned churches and starting their own.

[…]”After 1949 [when the Communist Party came to power], all the old beliefs were cracked apart,” he says. “Then there was the Cultural Revolution and the ideals of Communism fell apart, too. So, all Chinese people just looked to money then. But in fact money couldn’t satisfy their spiritual needs.”

The breakdown in the national value systems led to “a crisis in belief,” he said, a void that religion is increasingly filling for many people.

Rev. Ezra notes that ancient Taoism and Buddhism are also experiencing a revival in China at the moment, but that Christianity, particularly Protestantism, is expanding the fastest of all.

[…]But from a congregation of “a dozen people in 2007,” Rev. Ezra now boasts 600 parishioners, a Sunday school, a marriage counselling service and a regime to train disciples to help with the parish work.

He is both enthusiastic and optimistic about what the future holds.

“Abroad is in what we call the post-religious era. But it is just the opposite here in China,” he said. “When the ideals of Communism were spent after 30 years, religion started to rejuvenate. Today it is an explosion that will last another 20 to 30 years. Religion will incrementally affect all of Chinese society.”

Read the rest here.