Christian believers across China are facing intense persecution amidst ongoing attempts by the Government to regulate the Church.
Meeting places are being closed down, pastors and church members are being imprisoned, and the Chinese authorities are issuing a new state translation of the Bible to establish the “correct understanding” of scripture.
They ordered one church to remove the first commandment – “You shall have no other gods before me” – from their wall, claiming that it contradicts the policy of China’s president, Xi Jinping.
The current approach has been deemed the worst religious persecution since Chairman Mao’s attempts to eradicate religion.
Sunday schools and youth ministries have been banned and members of underground churches have been detained or gone into hiding.
One pastor said: “The Chinese Communist party wants to be the God of China and the Chinese people. But according to the Bible only God is God.”
Writing for Christian Today, Revd Mark Woods said: “Let’s be clear what that action means. It says categorically that the state is supreme, and not God.”
He added that Chinese officials appear threatened by believers proclaiming the lordship of Christ.
“What we are seeing in the 21st century is what God’s people have seen for millennia. The Chinese state is Nebuchadnezzar, demanding that Shadrach, Meschach and Abednego worship only him.”
“It’s Caesar – any one of a number of Caesars – requiring Christians to choose between sacrificing to him and martyrdom”, he said.
Barnabas Fund estimates that there may be as many as 100 million believers in China.
In December 100 members of one church were arrested, following the earlier arrest of their pastor and his wife.
Revd Woods said: “Religious liberty – including the freedom not to believe – is foundational for all liberties. It is the ultimate assertion that the state does not control conscience, and that no political system can claim our absolute allegiance.”