Editor's note: Last week we ran a wire story about a new report from ChinaAid, the Texas-based human rights group led by Bob Fu. The report claimed that incidents of government-sponsored persecution of Christians rose by 42 percent between 2011 and 2012. It also said that the Chinese government had launched a three-part plan to "completely wipe out house churches." Here two other key voices on religious freedom in China respond to the ChinaAid report, countering some of its conclusions. We have offered Fu a chance to reply, and plan to run his response later this week.
China's Actions Are Not About Christianity
According to the latest statistics from China Aid, 13.8 percent more Christians in China were persecuted last year as compared with 2011, continuing a trend of increasing persecution that goes back to at least 2007.
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.
Without a doubt, Christians in China face many obstacles as they live out their faith in an often hostile environment. But Christians are not persecuted simply for being Christians, nor are house churches targeted for attack simply for being house churches. If this were the case one would expect to see hundreds of house churches being closed down each week. (Beijing, which had the highest number of persecution cases in 2012, reportedly has more than 3,000 house churches, yet the China Aid report mentions only two cases involving Beijing ...1