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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 ...

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John Appling

October 30, 2013  7:29am

I live in China now. When I came to work here - I was told by my university that there was freedom of worship in China. I've found that to be true with some strange twists. Last year I taught on the Bible as part of European Culture. The text always refers to Jesus Christ and the Holy Bible & quoted long sections about the virgin birth and the death of Christ. They didn't monitor or restrict me in any way. I had more freedom than in the USA. People hand out tracts on the street and one house church rented an opera hall and handed out 1000 invitations. Yes - if you cross the government - you will suffer. But for all the panic, I don't see that as the major focus of the NT. There's only 1 church building in this town - but it's packed (250-300 people) in a place designed for 200. China's not perfect - but we're allowed to practice the faith and is it our job to change the government or make disciples? PS - try preaching politics in the US and see what happens.

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audrey ruth

March 03, 2013  5:05pm

The current issue of World magazine gives firsthand accounts of women (and their husbands with them) enduring incomprehensible pain and suffering because of China's persecution of their unborn children who are not their firstborns. One woman is profiled in this issue telling of how she was forced to undergo an abortion at 7 months gestation. She has had severe physical consequences as a result, which continue to this day. There are other horror stories, too. I know this is not exactly persecution of Christians, but it's unimaginably horrific. It seems there's not much a society which is this cold-hearted wouldn't do. Once murder of nascent children in the womb becomes acceptable, the slippery slope becomes very steep indeed. Not only in China, but in America as well.

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S Lamerson

March 02, 2013  12:55pm

I was in China last summer teaching at a seminary and attending an underground church. I found the atmosphere to be pretty free. While there were certainly precautions that had to be taken, I never felt as if I were in danger. As I understood the situation, and China was the most difficult country that I have ever been to in terms of understanding the culture (the term "open secret" was used a lot), the government knew about the church and the seminary and permitted them as long as they didn't break they were not involved in politics. I suppose that having a foreign professor would have created some problems if the government had known, but for the most part there seems to be a "don't do anything stupid and we won't bother you" kind of atmosphere. The problem of course, is that this could change at any time. The government controls what land the church can "lease" (no one really owns land in China) and can revoke that lease at any time. Sam Lamerson Professor of NT Knox Seminay

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NancY Tallman

March 02, 2013  8:24am

What a title for an article! Grabs ones attention! It is what we pray is true. BUT then the questions start as we read the article. If "Christianity" can exist unpersecuted in China ONLY by acting, professing, and believing as directed by the Chinese government, is it true Christianity? If believers must go against God's word, is this true Christianity? Is "Christianity" that is defined and controlled by anyone (except the Holy Spirit guides) true Christianity? Aren't the requirements of the government of China designed to wipe out Christianity? Are you basing the title on the perceived reduction in physical torture? Are fear and intimidation weapons? Our Ancient Enemy may be a liar but he knows how to destroy the Church.

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audrey ruth

March 01, 2013  4:23pm

Okay, I'm glad to hear that everything is hunky dory in China now. As long as Christians don't violate a long laundry list of perceived offenses, they are just fine. ::sarcasm off:: All persecution of Christians in every land has always been, first and foremost, triggered by their supposed rebellion against the ruling party -- in this case, the Communist Party. In virtually every instance, there was no real rebellion, only a declaration of God's Word with which the ruling party did not agree. It's that simple, and that terrible.

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Virginia Yip

February 27, 2013  11:15am

It is about time that American Christian hear a diferent voice on China.

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Don Sturgill

February 27, 2013  8:04am

Shoppers can rest at ease now. China doesn't want to get rid of Christians--the government is only trying to protect Communism (i.e. maintain power). No human rights problems there.

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Mark Pritchard

February 26, 2013  10:01am

@Brent - "The chosen method is not the same. Severe persecution has been traded for cooperation with Christians, even with the house churches. As long as they do not get involved in politics, they will be left alone." Has severe persecution been traded wholesale in each province, district, and among each police chief? Clearly this isn't the case (see: Nanchang, Xinjiang, Yunan, et al.) throughout all of China and it's disingenuous to assert this as broadly representative. Does the church have more freedom and support? Yes in some places (See: Taiyuan (TSPM), Dalian, Jixi, Zhengzhou, et al.) and it's equally as disingenuous for others to speak of persecution as if it were the universal experience of all Chinese believers. There is truth in both extremes but the actions of churches in Beijing do not a picture of Chinese Christianity make.

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Brent Fulton

February 26, 2013  7:55am

@Lawrence Wilson -- No one is saying there is no persecution. The question is how much, to whom and for what reasons.

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Brent Fulton

February 26, 2013  7:53am

Mingzhi, Thanks for your comments. I am in no way saying Christians should not speak out (please see last paragraph of my article). However, to single out those who do and imply that what happens to them is happening to vast numbers of Christians in China is misleading. Your point about "multi-faceted and complex political, cultural and religious issues" is well-taken, and applies equally well to all the articles under discussion here. It is impossible to do justice to these complexities in a short article or simple headline.

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Vic Christian

February 26, 2013  6:34am

Wow - this almost sounds like some other countries I read about in the news. Try to imagine Christians being persecuted, called names, with laws being passed forbidding them from agreeing with God as to what consitutes sin. Possibly, GB, Canada and the US?

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Lawrence Wilson

February 26, 2013  6:08am

So there is no persecution of Christians in China ... except when there is?

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james .

February 25, 2013  10:41pm

@ Mingzhi Chen. The Chinese state and all modern states, communist or democratic, will sooner or later fall like the Roman Empire and the empires before it - because they are essentially atheistic. The only kingdom that will survive now and to eternity is the kingdom of Christ i.e. the church. The church in China will outlive the Chinese government, irrespective of anyone's sympathies for the Chinese state.

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Mingzhi Chen

February 25, 2013  7:44pm

@Duane D Watts: It is NOT correct to expect the Chinese Government to act like a modern, free democracy, because it is not one. It is primarily concerned with its survival.

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Duane D Watts

February 25, 2013  7:18pm

Thank for this article. So then according to this perspective, there are several causes for concern for our borthers and sisters in China: 1. The government, varying by departments and regions FEARS Christianity, and/or the involvement of Christians in politics. 2. Certain regions with majority cultures and religions, may fear Christianity as something strange and unknown, threatening at least, local tradition, resulting in local or regional persecution. 3. The government and/or local peoples may fear foreign involvement, resulting in closer scrutiny and restrictions. When I put all of this together, I agree with the author that this is cause for concern and we Christians, in the US can pray for and press to encourage and more open China. Individual churches in China can become politically involved, but I think there is no corresponding action in the 1st century church that we know of, none-the-less we should pray for you and the government that the Lord opens China up.

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Duane D Watts

February 25, 2013  7:10pm

Thank you for this perspective. Then according to the article, several prayer points for the church in China. I also compare the Chinese culture and government with what the first and 2nd century Church would have experienced with Rome. Did the Church petition Rome for equal access? I suppose there were petitions, but we have no record of it. Paul did petition Rome for protection from the Jews, and was under Roman protection under house arrest, for perhaps many years, but Roman eventually executed Paul. Interesting that while Rome dealt with Christians as it did out of fear perhaps of a Christian uprising, or as a political expedient to distract the masses, and persecuted the Jews just the same, even raising Jerusalem in 70 AD, it is all referred to as persecution, just the same, perhaps because we know that "for still our ancient foe, doth seek to work us woe". My question is, is it correct for us to EXPECT the Chinese government to act like a modern, free democracy?

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Mingzhi Chen

February 25, 2013  6:45pm

"Insecurity" on the part of the government is not a proper pretext for abuse of human rights. If the argument is valid, the government can persecute you for any reason. 欲加之罪,何患無辭乎?在有三權分立的民主憲政的美國尚且還有侵犯人權事情的發生,更何況是一個一黨獨大於天下的政權。

Mingzhi Chen

February 25, 2013  6:30pm

On the surface, the authors of the articles might sound quite objective, I think we can appreciate the kind of analysis and insight they provide. At the same time, the very article also generates misunderstandings first of all, 1. that religious persecution isn't so bad in China. 2. It also suggests (intentionally or unintentionally) that the persecuted Christians in China are to be blamed (at least in part) for their plight. They should know better not to offend the government. in light of the 2 points, 3. Can the Christians always keep quiet? I don't think the authors intended to answer these questions. Their piece may be well-intentioned, but misguided.

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Mingzhi Chen

February 25, 2013  6:29pm

- The Lord does call us to be obedient to authority, for all authorities are ordained by God (that presupposes that authorities ought to act in accordance with God's law as well. Human authorities do not have absolute power). In the face of blatant abuse of power by the govt and abuse of individuals in the hands of govt agents, where does the church stand? Keep quiet or openly speak up? Does being a good Christian citizen mean we do not speak up against injustice by the government? What is the proper relationship between the church and the non-believing state in the current political context? Does the Christian care nothing about politics, and not engage in political activities at all? Is championing human rights a bad thing, especially religious rights? How is foreign involvement a crime?

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Mingzhi Chen

February 25, 2013  6:19pm

"These include directly opposing the Communist Party (especially in a public manner, which embarrasses government officials and is bound to provoke a response);engaging in political activity, openly championing human rights, or being identified with a group that does so; and having foreign involvement."

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