The leader of a Christian human rights organization based in the U.S has said Christians should be "outraged" as Chinese officials continue to destroy crosses, burn bibles, and close churches in Beijing and several provinces.
Earlier this month, activists filmed footage of what appeared to be piles of burning bibles and forms declaring that the signatories had rejected their faith. Chinese authorities allegedly forced the believers to sign the forms or risk being expelled from school or losing welfare benefits, Fox News reports.
A Christian Pastor in the Henan city of Nanyang, whose name was identified out of fear of retaliation by the authorities, reportedly confirmed that crosses, bibles and furniture were burned during a raid on his church on Sept. 5.
Bob Fu, president of China Aid, said: "The international community should be alarmed and outraged for this blatant violation of freedom of religion and belief."
He also shared video footage of the burning crosses on his Twitter account along with the caption: "CCP starts burning the Bible and crosses in Henan. Last time burning Bibles campaign happened in late 1960s by dictator Chairman Mao's wife Jiang Qing in Shanghai. She was arrested in 1976 but Christians grew to millions. Will Never be successful."
Underground or unregistered churches have been heavily targeted for years in China. However, the Communist government has recently been demolishing fully registered churches as well, taking down rooftop crosses and arresting believers.
The increasing persecution of Christians in the country coincides with President Xi Jinping's recent consolidation of power that made him the most powerful Chinese leader since Mao Zedong. After China's new Regulations on Religious Affairs went into effect in February, authorities increasingly targeted congregations in China's central Henan province, closing churches, forcing them to display the Chinese flag, and arresting Christians.
Last week, Pastor Shen Xianfeng penned a letter decrying the persecution of churches in Henan. The pastor, who visited several of the persecuted churches, said: "All these churches were assaulted seriously; they [the government] has utilized any [government] department they could utilize with any methods/tricks they could adopt."
"All kinds of official forces, from public security, armed police units, high ranking officers or low rank ones from the levels of province, county, and village all came out to threaten, to detain, to tear down, and to seal house churches' doors and to hit, break, and rob, [using] all kinds of means to repeat what happened during 'the Cultural Revolution.' What they did was totally not based on the law, and it was improper and unreasonable. They acted in direct opposition to righteous and moral principles."
He concluded: "For all kinds of government departments, there are so many other major things they do not want to manage. But they are interested in using political machineries to make themselves the enemies of the Christians with while making trouble out of nothing. Do they have nothing to do? Who gives them the rights? What kind of result do they want to achieve? Are they reaching their plot? Is it worthy to do this?"