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Home / World / China's religious crackdown is clouding the Christmas season for the country's faithful

China's religious crackdown is clouding the Christmas season for the country's faithful

Although she is officially an atheist and has a long and contradictory relationship with religion, the ruling Communist Party presides over a Christianity boom in China.

On December 9, authorities reportedly arrested more than 100 early-years Protestant worshipers at Rain Covenant Church in Chengdu City.

The pastor of the church, Wang Yi, was arrested on charges of "instigating the reversion of state power," according to the US ChristianAuthentiary ChinaAid. Neither China's National Religious Affairs Administration nor local Chengdu authorities responded to CNN's request for comment on the case.
  Then US President George W. Bush met with Christian activist Wang Yi (center).

The arrests prevent years of crackdown on religion in China. Dozens of predominantly Protestant Christian churches claimed to have been built or illegally built were demolished throughout the country in 2018. 19659002 In other parts of the western region of Xinjiang, a growing repressive campaign against the predominantly Muslim Uighur ethnic group has provoked international condemnation.

According to analysts and civil rights attorneys, Beijing is stepping up its campaign against worshipers who are seen as an ideological threat to the party's monopoly on power.

"We are entering a new era of repression against two of China's five religions, which is different from what we've seen in the last 40 years," said Pulitzer-winning journalist Ian Johnson and author of "The Souls of China: The Return of Religion to Mao."

Religion with Chinese Characteristics

Although China is officially an atheist state, religious practice is legal in the country – albeit under strict state supervision and oversight.

There are only five nationally recognized faiths: Chinese Buddhism, Islam, Catholicism, Protestantism, and Taoism.

Worship and religious activities are overseen by state-approved organizations. The government appoints important religious leaders and decides where places of worship can be built.

  Detention of 100 Christians raises concerns about religious action in China.

China's fragile relationship with organized religion has a long history In the mid-19th century, charismatic cult leader Hong Xiuquan declared himself the brother of Jesus Christ and started a civil war against the ruling Qing Dynasty.

At its peak, its heavenly kingdom controlled large parts of China in Taiping before it finally did defeated by imperial troops.

  In June, e Ine demolished house church in the city Zhengzhou in Henan (Henan province) to see.

Even the local spiritual and religious movements were subjected to brutal repressions.

In 1999, China banned the extermination of the Falun Gong movement, a belief that combines traditional practices of marriage with belief in the age. At its height, Falun Gong appealed to millions of supporters – and its influence worried the government.

Experts say that restrictions on worship help those in power to shape religious institutions to their liking or to co-opt them altogether.

Christianity and Islam, according to Johnson, are considered particularly threatening because the party considers them "strong foreign relations". "(That is), although both religions have long roots in China and are very localized," he added.

"Land of Special Concern"

Outrage grew in 2018 worldwide because of the treatment of Uyghur Muslim majority in Xinjiang With reports that hundreds of thousands were imprisoned in massive "reeducation camps".

The Uighurs' crackdown prompted the US State Department to declare China a "particularly worrying" country in terms of religious freedom. This happened after Chinese officials banned Uighurs from growing long beards, wore veils in public places, and taught their children at home.
  UN wants access to China's Xinjiang re-education camps & # 39; [19659030] UN wants access to China's Xinjiang re-education camps

"My special concern for China is that they have intensified these persecution activities against the religious community," Sam said Brownback, Washington's ambassador for international religious freedom, earlier this month. "China does not resist religious persecution, it seems to be expanding, which is obviously very worrying."

Chinese authorities say their actions in Xinjiang are designed to combat violent extremism and they have repeatedly denied allegations of human rights violations.
"Today's Xinjiang is not only beautiful, but also safe and stable, no matter where or what time of day, people are not afraid to go out, shop, eat and travel," Shohrat Zakir Xinjiang's ethnic governor said in October to state media.

Former inmates, however, reported torture and brainwashing in the detention centers, including the compulsory screening of the Communist Party's propaganda praising President Xi Jinping.

  A white-robed white-blooded person attends a protest march of ethnic Uighurs, calling on the European Union to call on China to uphold human rights in China's Xinjiang region in April.
In an interview with Reuters in November, China US Ambassador Cui Tiankai said the camps had tried to turn Muslim-majority inmates into "ordinary people."

Chinese authorities refuse to allow international monitoring groups and diplomats access to Xinjiang.

While other communist regimes were also hostile to religion, Johnson said that fighting Christianity and Islam was less about the beliefs and beliefs than about China's ability to control them.

"Under President Xi, the government has further tightened control over Christianity in its far-reaching efforts to" sini- nize religion "or" take on Chinese characteristics "- in other words, to ensure that religious groups control the government and the Supporting the Communist Party, "said Human Rights Watch in an appeal for the release of Wang Yi, the pastor from Chengdu, and his fellow believers.

China and the Vatican Negotiate a "Betrayal"

While some Christians lawfully worship in government-approved churches, many others visit unregistered subways.

State-sanctioned Catholic churches are headed by bishops who were elected and ordained by Peking not the Vatican. These churches neither recognize the Pope as the ultimate authority in Catholicism, nor does the Holy See recognize the bishops chosen by China as legitimate.

  Opposition is growing into a controversial agreement between Beijing and the Vatican.
After decades of cool relations, both sides reached a groundbreaking agreement in September to jointly authorize China's bishops. This could help restore diplomatic relations between Beijing and the Holy See.

In some circles it has found a quick resistance. Cardinal Joseph Zen, the former bishop of Hong Kong, called it in an interview with Reuters an "incredible betrayal" of the Catholic faith.

China's frequent critic and Republican US Senator Marco Rubio, himself a Catholic, asked how the Vatican could justify the assignment of religious authority to a secular government.

"They influence an (atheistic) government on the election of bishops which (the church says) are considered to be transmitters of the apostolic line, how can a secular (and atheistic) interference in this decision not break that line?" Rubio said on Twitter.

It remains unclear how the Vatican Agreement will affect Protestant churches such as Early Rain, but critics believe it comes from the same book as the arrests in Chengdu – it's all about control.

"This goes back to a broader government effort to crack down on everything that can be construed as civil society – in other words, groups like religious organizations or NGOs that are out of government control," Johnson said.

Ben Westcott, Nanlin Fang, James Griffiths, Steven Jiang and Matt Rivers of CNN Contributed to This Report

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