The War on Religion in China

International Christian Concern: The War on Religion in China
Chinese leader Xi Jinping |

ICC's president Jeff King recently interviewed Olivia Enos, a senior analyst at the Heritage Foundation, to discuss the steady surge in religious persecution in China.

According to King, "The church in China is going through its biggest crackdown in 40 years. But the abuses of the Chinese administration go way beyond that. They've enslaved 2 million or more of their people. They illegally annexed Hong Kong. Hong Kong was a democratic country."

He attributed the blame directly to President Xi Jinping, saying "at the head of the snake is present Xi Jinping." 

King said that "we don't really know" if Jinping is a "narcissistic garden variety dictator that's going to come and go" or if he is more akin to Hitler, a historic force of evil in the world.

Olivia Enos, who King called a "China expert", spoke about the recent trend of religious persecution in China. King asked Enos about the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) leadership, "What are they doing, the guys that are running China right now?"

According to Enos, "we have not seen such an authoritarian leader in China since Mao," citing Jinping's shift toward "collectivization, silencing of religious groups, suppression of civil and political liberties" on a massive scale. Enos continued to delve deeper into Jinping's oppressive policies toward the religious population of China, saying that "he instituted new regulations on religious affairs in 2018, and that made it so that all religion needed to basically manifest at characteristics that were in line with the vision of the Chinese communist party." Enos said about religious persecution in China that "we're seeing it at a new and more pernicious level now."

The conversation then turned to the internment of Uighur Muslims in China's Xinjiang province. Enos spoke about indoctrination and torture in the "reeducation facilities." She drew parallels between Jinping's rapid collectivization and the internment of Uighur Muslims, likening Jinping's authoritarianism and human rights violations to those of Mao. Enos noted that "the Chinese government has long engaged in putting people in reeducation or in prison, extrajudicially, but on such a massive and widespread scale, I don't think it's really happened."

King replied, "It's mind boggling. It's a million plus people in prison camps."

King then turned the topic to specifically Christians. Enos cited pastors being "thrown in prison" and taken in by the party for questioning and even torture. She spoke of churches being "shuttered by the Chinese communist party forcibly."

Enos cited the story of Pastor Wang Yi, who was sentenced to more than six years in prison and heavily fined for his involvement with Early Rain Covenant Church, an unregistered church that aids with disaster relief apart from being a house of worship for Christians.

She said that when churches do register with the CCP, "you become subject to what they believe the Gospel is, which is very distorted, not in any way sticking to the inerrancy of the scripture."

The two underscored how important it is for readers and their loved ones to pray for both China and North Korea, where despotic regimes forcibly suppress religion and threaten further generational trauma.