A report from a Christian charity claims that Christians in China are being persecuted at rates not seen since the Cultural Revolution, which lasted from 1966 until 1976.
The Cultural Revolution, launched by dictator Mao Zedong, attempted to eliminate the “Four Olds,” which were defined as “Old Customs,” “Old Culture,” “Old Habits,” and “Old Ideas.” The campaign, carried out by organized groups of students Mao called the Red Guards, targeted the adherents of religions, including Christianity, Buddhism, Taoism, Confucianism, and others. Countless temples, historical sites, books, and priceless historical artifacts were destroyed. Religious expression, which permeated the culture in China during that time, was essentially banned. Many Christians and others were persecuted, tortured and killed.
US-based China Aid in its Annual Persecution Report for 2016 found that incidents of Christian persecution rose about 20 percent on the previous year, while the number of Christians imprisoned went up by nearly 150 percent. Officials of the Chinese Communist Party, which is officially atheist, also called for the forced demolition of churches and removal of church crosses.
The report noted claims that Christians may have been killed for their organs—a grisly practice used mainly on adherents of Falun Gong, a form of traditional meditation that, during the 1990s, made up approximately one twelfth of the population, according to some estimates, and has been targeted for elimination by Chinese Communist authorities since 1999. Last June, a report said up to 1.5 million organ transplants may have taken place in China since 2000—most of which were harvested from Falun Gong prisoners of conscience.
According to China Aid, Christians are still forced to worship in houses or underground churches, adding that China ranks 39th out of the 50 worst countries in the world for persecuting Christians.
“The key findings of what happened last year and the reports from these first two months of 2017 have shown the situation of religious freedom is rapidly deteriorating,” Bob Fu, head of China Aid, said in the report, as Premier.org.uk reported.
After the Chinese Communist Party took power in 1949, Protestant missions in China were expelled.