China's Terror Laws Increasingly Used To Crack Down On Churches

ReutersChristians in China are facing increased restrictions under President Xi Jinping's rule.

Another crackdown on Christians in China is being reported. Radio Free Asia says both Catholic and Protestant congregations are being targeted in the northwestern region of Xinjiang.

Underground churches are being put under the spotlight by the state. 'The ruling Chinese Communist Party, which embraces atheism, has stepped up controls over any form of religious practice among its citizens in recent years,' says the report, 'putting increasing pressure on faith groups to join the Protestant Three Self Patriotic Association or the Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association, which has no ties with the Vatican.'

The attempts to disrupt unofficial churches are apparently being made in the name of 'anti-terrorism'.

An anonymous church member is quoted saying: 'We don't dare gather for worship now... The police are saying it's part of terrorism prevention in Xinjiang and that they won't allow gatherings of even a few people.'

While officially sanctioned churches continue to grow, the house churches and underground networks of churches have also experienced growth in numbers, despite harassment from the government. The church member went onto say, 'I heard that several churches...have been targeted. They are also going after people regarded as participating in evil cults.'

Fines have been issued, Bibles have been confiscated and some churches are now too afraid to meet. A government official is reported to have said: 'They all have to worship in [an officially approved] church.'