Blog note: Christian Persecution. Jesus indicated that many would hate and persecute Christians because of His name. This has always been the case and is increasing in intensity and frequency.
Psalm 25:19. Consider mine enemies; for they are many; and they hate me with cruel hatred.
Psalm 38:19. But mine enemies are lively, and they are strong: and they that hate me wrongfully are multiplied.
Psalm 41:7. All that hate me whisper together against me: against me do they devise my hurt.
Psalm 69:4. They that hate me without a cause are more than the hairs of mine head: they that would destroy me, being mine enemies wrongfully, are mighty: then I restored that which I took not away.
Psalm 69:14. Deliver me out of the mire, and let me not sink: let mebe delivered from them that hate me, and out of the deep waters.
Matthew 10:22. And ye shall be hated of all men for my name’s sake: but he that endureth to the end shall be saved.
Mark 13:13. And ye shall be hated of all men for my name’s sake: but he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved.
Luke 6:22. Blessed are ye, when men shall hate you, and when they shall separate you from their company, and shall reproach you, and cast out your name as evil, for the Son of man’s sake.
Luke 14:26. If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple.
Luke 19:14. But his citizens hated him, and sent a message after him, saying, We will not have this man to reign over us.
Luke 21:17. And ye shall be hated of all men for my name’s sake.
John 7:7. The world cannot hate you; but me it hateth, because I testify of it, that the works thereof are evil.
John 15:18. If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you.
John 15:23. He that hateth me hateth my Father also. End of note.
For a ‘house church’ in Beijing, CCTV cameras and eviction
By Christian Shepherd. Reuters. August 30, 2018
BEIJING (Reuters) – The Zion church in Beijing, one of the city’s largest unofficial Protestant “house” churches, has operated with relative freedom for years, hosting hundreds of worshippers every weekend in an expansive, specially renovated hall in north Beijing. But in April, city authorities asked the church to install 24 closed-circuit television (CCTV) cameras in the building for “security”, Zion’s head pastor, Jin Mingri, told Reuters. “They wanted to put cameras in the sanctuary where we worship. The church decided this was not appropriate,” Jin said over tea in his spacious, book-lined office. “Our services are a sacred time.”
When the request was refused, police and state security agents started harassing churchgoers, calling them, visiting them, contacting their workplace and asking them to promise not to go to church, according to statements from the church and interviews with attendees. China’s constitution guarantees religious freedom, but since President Xi Jinping took office in 2012, Beijing has tightened restrictions on religions seen as a challenge to the authority of the ruling Communist Party.
China’s religious affairs bureau and the public security ministry did not respond to faxed requests for comment. The Chinese government says greater oversight of religious activities is needed in order to regulate believers and facilitate worship, as well as to prevent foreign forces from influencing China’s internal affairs using the guise of religion.
HOUSE OR OFFICIAL
China’s Christian believers are split between those who attend unofficial “house” or “underground” churches and those who attend government-sanctioned places of worship.
The unofficial establishments, which range from small living room-gatherings to large, professional operations like Zion, had in recent decades been tolerated by authorities. They were often able to rent large spaces, though these are rarely identifiable from the outside. The only church exteriors in China adorned with steeples or crosses are officially sanctioned.
In February, new legislation increased oversight of religious education and practice, with harsher punishment for practices not sanctioned by the authorities. In addition to being asked to install security cameras, some unofficial churches have been asked by police to take detailed lists of attendee IDs and phone numbers, churchgoers and activists say. Some who push back have been visited by police and asked to switch places of worship to officially sanctioned churches, they added.
The Zion church, which occupies an office building floor that was previously a nightclub, is now being evicted despite previous verbal assurances from its landlord that it could rent the location until 2023, Jin said. The landlord could not be reached for comment. Jin does not expect to be able to find a landlord that would rent the church another suitable location.
There are roughly 60 million Christians in China, most of them Protestant, with about 10 million Catholics, according to independent estimates. The Vatican and Beijing are locked in talks to resolve a decades-long dispute over appointing bishops in China that, if resolved, could make underground Catholic churches official, with Holy See-approved bishops
On July 23, more than 30 of Beijing’s hundreds of underground Protestant churches took the rare step of releasing a joint statement complaining of “unceasing interference” and the “assault and obstruction” of regular activities of believers since the new regulations came into effect, according to a copy of the statement seen by Reuters and confirmed by Jin.
“We call on the government to respect history and the current situation of house churches, respect the means and practices of religious work, and respect citizens’ basic freedoms and rights to believe,” the letter said. Wang Yu, a prominent rights lawyer who has defended Christians from harassment and was recently baptized at Zion after years of worship there, said she believes the pressure on believers is an attempt to force the church to close. “The authorities hope numbers will dwindle till it becomes impossible to continue, but in recent months ever-more churchgoers have been attending service,” she said.
Wang fears, however, the situation will worsen, given the authorities have started describing the church as a “cult” when pressuring churchgoers. In one of its statements, Zion also says authorities have called the church a cult. “Being labeled a cult was how it all started for the Falun Gong in 1999,” Wang said, referring to the spiritual movement the Communist Party banned that year.
The new regulations have increased government pressure on the churches to “sinicize” – to be culturally Chinese and submit to oversight from the Communist Party – but many have resisted, saying this would be a fundamental betrayal of their faith.
“House churches believe that our spiritual needs and the content of our faith is ruled over by God,” Pastor Jin said. “What we need is the freedom to believe. Without this, it is not real faith.”
(Reporting by Christian Shepherd; Editing by Tony Munroe and Lincoln Feast)