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Chinese Prosecution of Christianity: Is This Evidence of Secularism?

Disclaimer: The views expressed are that of the individual author. All rights are reserved to the original authors of the materials consulted, which are identified in the footnotes below.

The global news has documented the ‘re-education camps’ created and utilised in China to curb extremism amongst the Muslim population.[1][hj1] However, what the news has failed to highlight is the systematic persecution of the Christian population in conjunction with the mass detention of Chinese Muslims. This article will examine what this persecution looks like and whether China is a secular State.

The Persecution

The religious foundation ‘Aid to the Church In Need’, which provides relief to Christians worldwide has produced a report that declared China the ‘regional hot spot’ for Christian persecution.[2] The persecution is said to be the worst it has been in over a decade and that 50 million people in China are expected to experience a form of persecution in the next year as the government cracks down on religious worship.[3]

The measures the Chinese government have implemented include closing down ‘unofficial’ underground congregations which are not registered with the State, removing crosses from buildings, arresting members of underground churches and restricting the sale of Bibles online.[4] Moreover, many Christians have also been sent to ‘re-education camps’ to be taught to be loyal to and adhere to the Communist ideology of religion.[5]

These restrictions come in the wake of regulations introduced in early 2018 in which churches must be officially registered with the government and comply with the rules set down by the Chinese Communist Party on what is accepted practice.[6] In some cases churches have been required to install extensive CCTV in order to enable the government to monitor who attends Church, with expectations that by the end of 2020 around 600 million CCTV cameras will have been forcibly installed in churches.[7]

Why is the Chinese Government imposing restrictions on Religious Groups?

With persecution reaching near genocide levels the true question is why has the government been resorting to these measures? Is it truly because of an increase in extremist religious values? Has religion become a mode of promoting social unrest?

It is reported that this crackdown is to ensure that religious doctrines are compatible with China’s communist and political values. China seeks to ensure that the ideology of religious figures do not surpass the ideology of the Communist Party and communist doctrines, as well as ensuring the population adheres to the current political doctrines. There is a widespread belief that if the government allows religious worship to go unchecked then this would cause mass unrest and risk adherence to and supremacy of the Chinese Communist Party.[8]

Does This Persecution Evidence Secularist Thinking?

The simple answer to this question would be no. The Chinese government is not banning all religious worship or introducing regulations that ensures any religious worship takes place in the privacy of residents’ homes. Thus, some religious worship is still allowed. However, the government’s restrictions mean that all religions must promote and adhere to Communist Party Governmental doctrines and those that don’t risk facing consequences. As a result, whilst religious worship is allowed, such religious worship must be compatible with governmental values.

In conclusion, it is clear that China’s persecution of Christians and other religious groups is extreme and has resulted in the State being the new hotbed of Christian persecution. It remains to be seen how far China will go in restricting religious worship and if this will in fact lead to China becoming a secular nation but at this current moment in time State compatible religious worship is the only religious worship that is allowed in China.

Layla Moan

Feature Writer



[1] Lucy Middleton, ‘Inside China’s Re-education Camps Where Women are Raped and Sterilised’ (Metro, 8 oct 2019) < > accessed 5 Apr 2020 [2] ‘South and East Asia Now the Hotbed of Christian Persecution, Report Finds’ (The Catholic World Report, 25 oct 2019) < > accessed 29 Mar 2020 [3] Harriet Sherwood, ‘One in Three Christians Face Persecution in Asia, Report Finds’ (The Guardian, 16 jan 2019) < > accessed 29 Mar 2020 [4] Lily Kuo, ‘In China, They’re Closing Churches, Jailing Pastors- and even rewriting scripture’ (The Guardian, 13 jan 2019) < > accessed 29 Mar 2020 [5] Charlie Moloney, ‘Christianity Crackdown: Government Destroys 7000 crosses and Burns Bibles’ (Express, 17 sep 2018) < > accessed 22 Mar 2020 [6] Ibid [7] Michael Brown, ‘The Brutal Truth About Persecution of Christians in China’ (Townhall, 23 sep 2018) < > accessed 22 Mar 2020 [8] Reggie Littlejohn, ‘China’s New Law: Christian Persecution Worst Since Mao’s Cultural Revolution’ (WND, 1 oct 2019) < > accessed 22 Mar 2020 and John Sudworth, ‘Why Many Christians in China Have Turned to Underground Churches’ (BBC, 26 Mar 2016) < > accessed 29 Mar 2020

[hj1]Just a quick reminder – all footnote numberings should come after the punctuation. Please edit all the rest accordingly as well J Check out this helpful guide if you want more info:

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