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Bible player sells equipment: Chinese court sentences Christians to life in prison

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A court in southeast China has handed down jail terms to four Christians arrested last year on charges of illegally selling electronic devices that play Bible verses.

The middle-aged men — Fu Hyunjuan, 43, Deng Tianyong, 50, Feng Qunhao, 45, and Han Li, 40 — were jailed and fined for their involvement in the business in Shenzhen city in southeast China’s Guangdong province, reported Bitter Winter, a magazine on human rights and religious liberty, on Aug. 3.

Fu was jailed for six years and fined 200,000 yuan (US$31,000); Deng Tianyong to three years and a fine of 50,000 yuan; Feng Qunhao to two and half years and a fine of 30,000 yuan; and Han Li to 15 months and a fine of 10,000 yuan.

They were arrested on July 2, 2020. Police also recovered computers from their company called Life Tree Culture Communication.

They faced trial at the Bao’an District court on Dec. 9 last year but their verdicts were delayed, Bitter Winter said. It also said family members of the four men and fellow Christians were threatened not to discuss the case.

China’s communist regime has long tolerated production and sales of Bible prayers and electronic Bibles, which are popular among Christians.

However, things changed in 2018 when the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) adopted repressive new regulations on religious affairs, media reports say.

Chinese authorities have been removing Bible apps and Christian WeChat public accounts, the Christian Post reported in May.

International Christian Concern reported that Bibles in hard copy are no longer available for sale online either, adding that Bible apps can only be downloaded in China with the use of a virtual private network (VPN).

US-based Christian group Open Doors, in its 2021 World Watch List, ranked China 17th among 50 countries where Christians face severe forms of persecution.

A policy of Sinicizing religion has been implemented across the country as the CCP relies strongly on Chinese cultural identity to stay in power and limits whatever it perceives as a threat to its control of society, Open Doors reported.

Sinicization aims to impose strict rules on societies and institutions based on the core values of socialism, autonomy and supporting the CCP leadership.

New restrictions on the internet, social media and non-governmental organizations, and the 2018 regulations on religion, are strictly applied and seriously limit freedom. Churches are being monitored and closed down, whether they are independent or part of the Three-Self Patriotic Movement, the officially sanctioned Protestant Church in China, Open Doors noted.

“And it’s not just the introduction of new laws that impinge on Christian activity, it’s also the stricter implementation of already existing laws, such as the ban on the online sale of Bibles,” it said.

 

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Taliban are carrying out mass executions, says Christian missionary helping Afghans

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Less than a month after the U.S. troops withdrew troops from Afghanistan, the Taliban have started arresting, and in some instances executing, people they perceive as their enemies. Recent photos and video suggest they’re killing as many as 30 to 40 at a time, Christian missionary David Eubank, a former U.S. Army Special Forces and Ranger officer, said in a media interview.

The way the United States pulled out is “dishonorable, and a horrible breaking of promises … and leaving thousands of people behind that we promised we’d take out with us including American citizens,” Eubank, who is from Free Burma Rangers and provides humanitarian services in war-torn areas, told CBN News.

In some instances, the pull-out has been “cowardly,” he continued, speaking from Tajikistan, which neighbors Afghanistan and where many Afghans are arriving after fleeing the Taliban.

“Taliban are hunting down people right now, trying to get all the names of anyone they perceive as an enemy,” Eubank said, adding that the enemies include “people who work with the U.S. government, people who are with other governments, people who work with non-governmental organizations they don’t agree with.”

Eubank, who is in Tajikistan to help Afghans, also said that “many have been executed. … I’ve seen recent photos of 30 to 40 people [being executed].”

Eubank clarified that he doesn’t know the scale of the killings or the arrests, “but I believe it’s countrywide now.”

The Taliban are allowing American citizens who have identity cards to escape, he continued, adding that “anyone who doesn’t have papers, anyone they perceive as an enemy, they are going to arrest them, and, in many cases, execute them.”

The people in Afghanistan “are in terror,” Eubank added.

According to its website, Free Burma Rangers have helped 1.5 million displaced persons to date who would have otherwise died.

In an interview with The Christian Post last year, Eubank shared: “I am motivated by what Jesus does for me and want to share His love and encourage people to follow Him. We are not to be led by comfort, fear or pride, but go in the love God gives us. We go into areas of direct combat to save lives and share love.”

Following the drawing down of U.S. troops in Afghanistan, the Taliban quickly seized control of much of the country, taking the capital Kabul last month and forcing the government to flee.

The U.S.-based persecution watchdog International Christian Concern warned last week that as the Taliban is cracking down on protests and journalists, concerns are also being raised among religious minorities of increased oppression and persecution because the Taliban have promised strict enforcement of Sharia law.

Almost all Afghan Christians — estimated to be between 8,000 and 12,000 — are converts from Islam and remain largely closeted and hidden from the public eye due to severe persecution.

“Their status as converts makes Afghan Christians direct targets for persecution by both extremist groups and society in general,” ICC reports. “In Afghanistan, leaving Islam is considered extremely shameful and converts can face dire consequences if their conversion is discovered.”
Sources:Christian Post

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ICC report on religious persecution of Christians in China over the past year

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International Christian Concern (ICC) has just published a new report on persecution in China. In it, ICC lists and analyzes over 100 incidents of Christian persecution between July 2020 and June 2021, a period marked by a significant campaign by the Chinese government to forcefully convert independent religious organizations into mechanisms of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP).

This forceful assimilation—also called Sinicization—has continued to intensify since it was introduced as part of the Four Requirements campaign launched in 2018. Since then, the government has only increased its attempts to use the Church for political purposes. It has gone as far as converting church buildings into propaganda centers and even regulating the content of sermons in order to promote communist party values.

Three-Self churches are part of the legal framework the CCP uses to systemically curb Christianity, including Catholicism. If a church is not registered as a state-sanctioned church, it is violating the law and the CCP can step in at any time to shut it down, prosecute individuals, and put enormous social pressure on attendees. As described in last year’s report, registered churches are at the mercy of laws that were passed entirely in contradiction to the constitution and enforced by multiple departments, bureaus, and agencies using them to suppress house church activity.

A significant trend throughout the past year was church raids. In them, not only were churches shut down or demolished, but pastors and church attendees were often arrested. One example of a church raid was in September 2020, in Sichuan province, when China’s Public Security Bureau of Nanbu deployed over 30 police officers to raid an underground Protestant house church, known as Sola Fide. When police arrived on the scene, they arrested 50 Sola Fide members. Throughout this process, the police tore down crosses and other Christian symbols and destroyed hymnals and Bibles.

With the intensified crackdown against churches, both state-vetted and underground, there is no longer a safe place to be a Christian in China. Almost every province in China has seen an increase in Christian persecution over the last year.

The Religious Affairs Bureau and the CCP have a single goal: to prevent religious influence from threatening their communist control.

Gina Goh, ICC’s Regional Manager for Southeast Asia, said, “China tightening down on people of faith comes as no surprise to observers. What is concerning is the depth and width of persecution and that it continues to expand. From Xinjiang to Sichuan, from state-sanctioned groups to underground churches, from verbal threats to imprisonment, believers in China are constantly watched and persecuted, as documented in ICC’s latest incident report. The international community should not appease Beijing and let it get away with its blatant disregard for human rights.”

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