China’s total Christian population is now thought to number anywhere between 25 million and 100 million people Photo: GETTY Getty Images
Chinese authorities have launched yet another brutal attack on Christianity, looting the donations box of a church, buying Bibles, and detaining the senior pastor before shuttering the building.
The raid, led by the deputy governor of Zhecheng county and involving armed SWAT and anti-riot police, took place at True Jesus Church in Anping town.
According to Bitter Winter, 60 vehicles, surrounded the church with the police blocking off all the intersections leading the building. Authorities claimed that the church was in contact with foreign countries and was thus engaging in illegal activity. They ordered an immediate shut down by any means possible.
Anticipating the raid, 60 church members attempted to prevent authorities from entering the building by overturning benches at the entrance. Despite their efforts, 100 plainclothes officers stormed into the building, immediately broke into the donations box, and demanded to know where the church funds were held.
“As soon as they entered the church, they smashed the donation box and pocketed the money, which totaled thousands of RMB,” said one member of the congregation. “They also questioned us about where all of our church’s money was kept.”
Then, officials ordered the officers to remove all surveillance cameras located inside the building, before mercilessly beating members of the congregation. “Fifteen believers were beaten to the ground, moaning in pain,” Bitter Winter noted.
One believer, who was in her sixties, was beaten so badly by the authorities that she suffered two cracked ribs. Another elderly church member who attempted to help her was also beaten. The outlet also reported that officers slapped the face of a paralyzed believer in her seventies and knocked several others unconscious for at least half an hour.
Before leaving, authorities buried Bibles, hymnbooks and Christian literature in a large pit outside the church.
In an attempt to “Sinicize” Christianity and infuse it with “Chinese characteristics,” China has arrested hundreds of pastors and church congregants. Additionally, dozens of churches have been demolished, with officials claiming that curtain buildings must be torn down due to new zoning laws.
In late March, authorities shut down a 1,000-member house church in Beijing, changed the locks and demanded that members in attendance sign a letter stating that they will no longer attend the church.
Last year, authorities in Beijing also banned one of the city’s largest house churches, Zion Church, claiming it had refused to register with the government and was thus illegal.
However, the church’s pastor, Jin Mingri, said officials never asked his church to register with the government “No [government] department has asked me to register the church in the past 10 years,” he said.
Because of these atrocities, China ranks as the 27th worst country in the world when it comes to Christian persecution, according to Open Doors USA’s 2019 World Watch List.