The Communist government of China has intensified its crackdown on Christian communities as the number of converts continues to rise. Most recently, Chinese authorities have begun to implement a ban on online sales of the Bible. Bibles can only be purchased legally in state-approved Christian bookstores.This comes after the government’s recent decision to reassign the management of religious affairs, for decades run by a government department, to the Chinese Communist Party, which will be implementing new regulations that penalize all unregistered religious activities.
Speaking to The Sun, a Christian Solidarity Worldwide spokesperson expressed concern over the increased persecution against Christians in China, saying “The ban [on selling Bibles online] is deeply concerning and part of a wider pattern of violations of the right to freedom of religion or belief in China, which includes unregistered ‘house churches.’”
The government has also been conducting an ongoing campaign to destroy houses of worship, including Protestant and Catholic churches, institutes of Tibetan Buddhism, and mosques. For example, in January, Chinese authorities in Shanxi province used dynamite and excavators to destroy the “Golden Lampstand Church,” an unregistered Protestant church with approximately 50,000 congregants.
Chinese authorities have detained, tortured, prosecuted, and convicted religious leaders from a range of faith communities around the country. Some have died while in custody.
The United States has condemned China for its ongoing repression of religious freedom. In December, the State Department re-designated China along with nine other states as Countries of Particular Concern for having engaged in, or tolerated, particularly severe violations of religious freedom.
The U.S. Department of State’s, Ambassador-at-Large for Religious Freedom, Sam Brownback, stated “I am deeply concerned by the Chinese government’s tightening restrictions on religious practice.On March 30, which was Good Friday, the government began enforcing a longstanding prohibition on the sale of Bibles online, and retailers who do not comply may face punishment. This decision and other actions by the Chinese government to prevent members of religious communities from practicing freely are unacceptable. I will be engaging the Chinese government directly on these issues to urge them to reverse course immediately."