The growth of Christianity is seemingly picking up momentum in China. However, the communist country is keen to curb this trend. In one of such latest efforts, officials in China’s eastern Zhejiang province have directed the closing of Sunday schools and keeping children from Christian events over the summer months. This is contrary to the previous years where teenagers were always allowed to participate in religious events! Controlling Christianity is not a new thing in China. However, despite the restrictions, the Three-Self Churches and house churches would usually hold summer camps during the summer vacation. Nonetheless, in the new wake of events, the government has emphasized that even the Sunday schools would be closed down.
The Henan Provincial Three-Self Patriotic Committee and the Henan Provincial China Christian Council issued the directive preventing churches from organizing summer camps for minors and students, citing “high temperatures” as a possible health hazard. However, this move is interpreted as the government’s intention to control ideology!
The increasing clamp down on Christian activities has also been partly attributed to the change of regime in China. During the reign of Presidents Jiang Zemin and Hu Jintao’s, the Chinese government was a bit tolerant toward preaching and missionary activities. However, since Xi Jinping took power, the government’s grip on religion has apparently intensified.
China is ranked #39 on Open Door USA’s World Watch List of 50 countries where it is most difficult to be a Christian. Over the past year, President Xi Jinping has issued orders directing the ruling party organs to bring under Chinese tradition – the country’s ethnic and religious minorities in an attempt to counter religious “extremism”. Chinese government believes Christianity, whose followership is estimated to rival in number the 85 million members of the Communist Party, “poses a major threat” to country’s long-term stability.
To enforce this policy, Chinese officials have warned Christian parents that if they continue to take their children to churches not approved by the government, their children will not only be barred from attending colleges or serving in the military, but will also face legal action. The government has particularly sanctioned the Protestant church, the Three-Self Patriotic Movement forbids its members from “brainwashing” teenagers with religious beliefs and bringing children to religious activities.
Notwithstanding the ongoing persecution of Christians in China, the Gospel has continued to experience an unprecedented growth rate, as more and more parents are demanding that teachers should teach their children about Jesus. While most Chinese citizens remain atheist or Buddhist, most parents are open to Christianity, thus encouraging their children to learn about Christ.
Besides teaching Christian values, teachers spend more time with students in hopes of leading them to Christ. Furthermore, Chinese millennials are also embracing Christianity at a dramatic rate. Some of those who are newly converted to Christianity have admitted that the Gospel opened their eyes to happiness and peace in an entirely new way.