Christians in China may soon face tougher times as the government is reportedly planning to impose new restrictions on religious freedom.
Christian human rights organisation China Aid recently raised concerns over the release of a draft of a new set of religious restrictions by the State Council of the People's Republic of China.
These new proposed regulations, reportedly set for enforcement this month, include a ban on wide-ranging religious practices, including "organising citizens to attend religious trainings, conferences and activities abroad," and "preaching, organising religious activities, and establishing religious institutions or religious sites at schools."
The new measure also seeks to prohibit the spreading of God's Word online. It also seeks to ban "organising religious activities in unapproved religious sites," which is seen as an attempt to reduce contact between churches and religious organisations in China.
These rules, according to China Aid, are meant to further "suppress all unofficial religious activities via dispersing Christian house churches, silencing Tibetan and Xinjiang separatists and undermining the Vatican's influence on Chinese Catholics."
The organisation talked to a pastor named Zhou, who condemned the Chinese communist party's attempt to "take charge of religion." He also saw the proposed regulations as a form of further persecution of Christians.
"The government wants to control everything, even the smallest aspects. One characteristic of this draft is the empowerment of local government bodies all the way down to the communities. This revision will further reduce the possibility of loosening religious control in China. It is becoming impossible," the pastor said.
However, Bob Fu of China Aid says persecution actually encourages growth. "What I see with the new wave of persecution is a new wave of revival," he told LifeSiteNews.
Emily Fuentes of the Open Doors ministry agreed, saying: "Christianity is growing fastest where the persecution is the most severe. The persecutors are intrigued by why people would continue to support this belief. There is kind of the appeal of something that is taboo."
David Aikman, author of "Jesus in Beijing" and a former TIME Magazine bureau chief in Beijing, places the growth rate of Christianity in China at 7 percent a year.