Bible-burning seen as Chinese Christians squeezed

China | ASSOCIATED PRESS 11 Sep 2018

Chinese authorities are said to be ratcheting up a crackdown on Christians, destroying crosses, burning bibles, shutting churches and ordering followers to sign papers renouncing their faith.

Bob Fu of the US-based group China Aid claimed the closure of churches in Henan province and a prominent house church in Beijing represents a "significant escalation" of the crackdown.

Activists say that as President Xi Jinping consolidates power he is waging the most severe systematic suppression of Christianity in the country since religious freedom was written into the Chinese constitution in 1982.

Fu also provided video footage of what appeared to be piles of bibles burning.

Other video views showed forms stating that the signatories had renounced their Christian faith.

Fu said it marked the first time since the Cultural Revolution that Christians had been compelled to make such declarations under pain of losses of social benefits.

Chinese law requires believers to worship in congregations registered with the authorities, but many millions belong to churches that defy restrictions. In Beijing, the Zion church was shut on Sunday by around 60 government personnel who arrived at 4.30 pm with police cars and fire trucks, the church's pastor, Ezra Jin Mingri, said yesterday. Zion is the largest house church in Beijing, with six branches.

All officially recognized religions appear to have been affected by the crackdown.

An estimated one million Uygurs and other minority groups have reportedly been detained in camps and forced to denounce Islam.

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