The persecution of Christians inChina continues to be severe. It is estimated that there are 60 million Christians in China, but half of them are in unregistered churches. Our Chinese materials are mostly in the hands of unregistered Christians, and a vast percentage of those are in university settings. A new tactic against the gospel is a Bible revision by the Communist Chinese Government.
American missionaries were able to take large numbers of Chinese Bibles into the country before the government’s crackdown. The Chinese government has answered that by producing a state version of the Bible. A high school textbook published by the Chinese government quotes their version of John 8:3-11. This passage is the account of a woman taken in adultery and brought before Jesus by the religious leaders. The leaders cite the Old Testament law saying that she should be stoned. In verse 7, Jesus says, “He that is without sin among you, let him cast the first stone at her.” The Chinese government quote of this passage is quite different. In the Communist version, Jesus says that the law has to be enforced, and he stones the woman to death.
This has been called “the Communist Christ,” and it is a very different Christ from the one we read about in the Bible. It is also a vivid demonstration of what happens when Christianity gets mixed up with politics. The atheistic Communist government twists the biblical teaching to fit their agenda.
We emphasize Christ’s teaching in Matthew 5-7 (the Sermon on the Mount) and Matthew 22:21 (about rendering to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s and to God the things that are God’s). We do that keep biblical teaching pure and not tainted by the political agenda of the day. Bible revision by the Communist Chinese Government is nothing new. People who claimed to be Christians distorted Christ’s teaching to justify slavery in America. Others today use the Bible to justify abortion and immorality.
An organization called Open Doors monitors the persecution of Christians in all denominations around the world. Their data for 2018 shows that in the top 50 countries on the watch list Christians experienced a 14% increase in high levels of persecution. Those of us living in the United States have no idea how much violence is brought against believers in Jesus on a worldwide scale. Open Doors reported this data of persecution of Christians in 2018:
4136 Christians were killed for faith-related reasons. That’s 11 Christians murdered every day.
2625 Christians were detained without trial, arrested, sentenced and imprisoned because of their faith.
1266 Churches or Christian buildings like orphanages or hospitals were attacked.
The #1 country in terms of persecution of Christians is North Korea where atheism is the state religion and worship of any kind is not tolerated.
The # 2 (Afghanistan), #3 (Somalia), #4 (Libya), #5 (Pakistan), and #6 (Sudan) countries on the list are Muslim controlled. In those countries, the government encourages violence against Christians.
We tend to trivialize the few media reports of severe persecution of Christians. However, the media seriously under-reports the violence, especially against Christian women. At the same time, our media over-reports abuse that takes place in American churches. Persecution of Christians in 2018 affected one in nine of our brothers and sisters worldwide.
Open Doors is a major source of information and help to those who are being oppressed. You can read more on their website OpenDoorsUSA.org.
Persecution of Christians in the United States has thus far been pretty much confined to government legal attacks on the religious freedom of Christians. We have reported on some cases in recent months.
Unbelievers also are making legal attempts to silence the followers of Jesus Christ to prevent people from hearing our message. We are finding that even our lectureships on evidence for the existence of God and the validity of the Bible are now banned in many public places. That is especially true on university and college campuses. Places where we have regularly spoken for 50 years are now off limits to us. That is in the name of supporting the national mandate for religious pluralism.
Conditions in other parts of the world are much worse. The October 31, 2017, report from The Institute on Religion and Democracy tells that in India attacks on Christians have reached record numbers in 2017. Christians in a worship service in a small village were “viciously beaten by suspected Hindu radicals.” ISIS has killed Christians and destroyed churches in Syria. Coptic Christians in Egypt have been attacked and killed. In China, Christians were arrested for sharing their faith by singing in a public park. The Institute reports that “The greatest persecution of Christians in history has been occurring during years 2015-2017.”