As part of Family Research Council's growing engagement on international religious freedom, each month we are taking a focused look at one particular country, bearing witness to the abuses our Christian sisters and brothers there are enduring. While we pray for our own country, we also pray for countries where religious freedom does not exist and persecution against believers continues unabated.
This month, our international religious freedom focus is on China.
Formerly an acclaimed legal scholar, Pastor Wang Yi led Chengdu's Early Rain Covenant Church -- one of the most influential churches in China's vast underground Christian movement -- for more than a decade. One observer recalled, "When Wang Yi addressed his congregation... he had rosy cheeks and a winning smile, and when he spoke, it was in a strong and forceful voice, his words as clear as his arguments."
But he is no longer preaching there. Today, Pastor Wang is in prison.
Wang Yi and his wife Jiang Rong were arrested in a "lightening raid" in December 2018, along with more than 100 church members. His wife and most of the others were released six months later.
On December 30, 2019, Wang Yi was sentenced to nine years in prison for "inciting subversion of state power and illegal business operations." China's authorities could no longer tolerate his powerful message of freedom of conscience and faith in Jesus Christ.
Now, China is very much the focus of international news reports. The U.S. government has also been increasingly outspoken about continuing betrayals, thefts, and abuses America has suffered as a trade partner and ally of China.
And today we see Hong Kong -- and potentially Taiwan -- being threatened by the ruling Chinese Communist Party (CCP). Will they also soon suffer the CCP's outrageous and continuing human rights abuses?
Meanwhile, religious freedom in China has been declining over the last several years, as Chinese leaders seek to suppress authentic faith and compel religious leaders to reinforce the authority of the CCP. All religions are subject to the government's crackdown on faith, and authorities have proven that they will go to great lengths to suppress religious groups.
Believers in China regularly face a variety of threats posed by their own government, which is unquestionably a global power. Please join us in praying for Pastor Wang Yi as he serves his prison sentence, that he will soon be released. And also pray with us for religious freedom in China -- for people of every faith.
"Remember those who are in prison, as though in prison with them..." (Hebrews 13:3)
Remember the Persecuted
Religious liberty is the freedom to hold beliefs of one’s choice and to live according to those beliefs. While it was foundational to the formation of the United States of America, religious freedom is not merely an American right, but an inherent human right.
Yet the human race currently faces unprecedented religious persecution from governmental and social forces worldwide. In 2016, one or more religious groups were harassed in 187 countries around the world.
Over the last decade, Christians have been harassed in more countries, including the United States, than any other religious group. We do indeed face a worldwide crisis of religious liberty.
We must increase awareness of the expanding threat to religious freedom around the world and the persecution that many Christians are facing. As we grow awareness of this problem we must also increase engagement that will bring tangible hope and help to the persecuted.
For More Information
- Stories from Iran: Religious Freedom and the Secret Growth of the Underground Church - Speaker Series Event
- Testimony of Ji Hyeon-A – Values Voter Summit 2019
- Religious Freedom in China: One Daughter's Testimony - Speaker Series Event
- Apostasy, Blasphemy, and Anti-Conversion Laws - Family Research Council Publication
- Religious Freedom in China: The History, Current Challenges, and the Proper Response to a Human Rights Crisis- Family Research Council Publication