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question just keeps coming back - whenever anybody mentions that there may be
any kind of persecution of Christians going on in China. This is becoming a
very tired question that we have to answer and explain over and over
again, whenever this subject comes up. We would like to make it easier for
our readers, friends, supporters, and an occasional enemy as well, to understand
how this deception works.
One of the main objections that keeps coming up against any claim to the hardships being experienced by the evangelical, hard-core, Bible-believing churches in China is that "...but there are churches in China and nobody is persecuting the churchgoers!". True, but not completely. It is not enough to present one or two cases to prove our point (and throw out all the other cases that contradict our view, in the process). To be fair, one would have to actually deal with the claims in the first place; are they true, or are they contrived?
We will try to explain in our article that, regardless of the veracity, or validity, of the claims of Christian persecution in China, presenting a few cases for the existence of the said physical buildings, called "churches", doesn't make a case for anything. Call it an "indirect denial" if you will.
First, lets find out what these buildings are and what is their real purpose...
There are two major physical churches in existence in Beijing, that we are aware of, and they are clearly a showcase for the consumption of the Western tourists and the media. One of them is Catholic, the other one is a Protestant church (that takes care of the two major branches of Christianity in existance, right?).
The Protestant, Chong Wen Men Church, however not very visible to the average tourist, is located in the central section of the city and is visited by many Christians from the West. They even have a translating service, so that the visitors can don on a set of infrared headphones and listen to the sermon in English. The church is open on Sundays for two services, 6:00 AM and 8:00 AM.
Catholic church is located right next to one of the best of the
capital's hotels, Tianlun Dynasty Hotel. This is as central and
visible in Beijing as one can dream of. Any tourist who wants to
take a stroll along Wang Fu Jing Street (known for its stores,
shopping malls, cafe's, street food fares and other attractions),
has to pass by this picturesque old church. The services are held
there in the early morning hours and the place is shut close for the
rest of the day. For most of the day, the square in front of the
church is populated by the visitors to Beijing, people who cannot
find a better place to eat their lunch, beggars and, probably most
visibly, kids roller-skating, rollerblading, riding their bikes,
skateboards, playing games, etc. This place is also popular as the
backdrop for couples taking their wedding pictures.
There are Western Christian organizations and ministries that assert that there is no need for Christians in China to stay "underground" (sometimes literally!), that they should register with the government (and live happily ever after). Well, when they do that, they pledge their allegiance to the State, instead of God. Too many Chinese Christians have learned this principle the hard way, or otherwise knew it beforehand, to fall for this.
There are really only two choices:
1. It is true that there is nothing wrong with the state of affairs concerning the Christian Church in China. There is no need for printing of (independent, uncensored) Christian literature and Bibles in China and bringing them from abroad. This is the voice coming from all the centralized bodies; be it governments, major media outlets, big (official, registered) Western Christian organizations working in China.
2. There are serious problems, as far as treatment of the Chinese (unregistered) believers by the Chinese Government goes. That includes imprisonment, torture, extortion fines, intimidation, confiscation of possession, denial of rights and access to attorneys, and more. This comes from smaller to mid-size ministries, individuals and human rights organizations; bodies that have no purpose or gain in making up stories about the situation of the Christian believers in China and don't need, or are not pursuing obtaining of, any kind of license to operate in China.
To state that there is no problem with this situation, is to claim to be able to dismiss the thousands of claims of abuse and persecution of Christians in China by their government. Many of the cases are well-documented; including pictures, witnesses, and written and signed testimonies.
We are still waiting for any of the Western organizations approaching the house church members and rebuking them for "spreading rumors" about them being persecuted, or experiencing any kind of hardships from the Chinese authorities; the courts, the police, etc.
One side must be lying or be grossly misinformed...
We are planning on adding more information to this article in the future...