A large percentage of Chinese Christians are part of unregistered illegal churches—remaining underground because they recognize only Christ as Lord, and they refuse to allow the atheistic government to control their churches.
For years people have told me, including some who’ve read my novel Safely Home, that there is no more persecution of Chinese Christians. True, compared to earlier decades, religious persecution in some parts of China has not been as extreme. In some places there may be little or no persecution. Local officials may look the other way, even if they suspect Christians are meeting illegally (as most Christians in China do).
In other cases, whereas Christians were once jailed for assembling without permission, they may now be ostracized and prohibited from holding significant positions of influence in government, education, or business. So the severity of their persecution is decreased but still very real.
However, in other places, Chinese Christians have continued to experience extreme persecution. In fact, it’s likely that more Christians in China are currently in prison for their faith than in any other country. Reports from unregistered churches continue to confirm that thousands of Chinese Christians are still imprisoned for following Jesus, and many are still beaten and abused in prison.
When I visited China and was doing background research on Safely Home, a Chinese Christian told me, “Somewhere in China, the sun is always shining, and somewhere the snow is always falling.” In other words, there’s always freedom somewhere and persecution somewhere else.
It is still illegal to teach children under eighteen about God and Jesus. It is still illegal for three or more believers to gather for religious purposes without government approval. A large percentage of Chinese Christians are part of unregistered illegal churches—remaining underground because they recognize only Christ as Lord, and they refuse to allow the atheistic government to control their churches. (A recent Breakpoint commentary, about Chinese pastors taking a stand for Christ, included these statistics on the number of Christians in China: “…the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life counts 67 million Christians of all kinds—35 million independent Protestants, 23 million Protestants in government-sanctioned churches, and 9 million Catholics. Other estimates go even higher.”)