Friday, September 09, 2011

Operation Deterrence

In December 2010, the Politburo of the Chinese Communist Party, the powerful nine-member committee of top party leaders, launched a new strategy to deal with their growing "evangelical problem." At a national conference, China's director of the State Administration for Religious Affairs (SARA) outlined a program intended to "guide" Protestants who worship at "unauthorized gathering places" toward churches controlled by the state. They named the program Operation Deterrence.

Operation Deterrence greatly increased the pressure on Christians who worship in unregistered churches, making 2011 the worst year for persecution against Christians in China since 2003.

The government's actions come at a time when the Chinese house church movement, which includes all Christians who worship at unofficial churches, is experiencing unprecedented openness. "Nobody in China hides from the police anymore," says Pastor "Joel" of the house church movement.

Although many house churches have met openly for the past five years, Pastor Joel says church leaders understand that persecution has not ended. "On any given Sunday, 95 percent of church leaders will go to church without any problem," he says. "But they all know that the possibility is there. Church leaders can go to prison any day, at any time. Every church leader I know has counted the cost."

(from Voice of the Martyrs newsletter, September 2011)

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