It’s no secret that Chinese citizens do not get to enjoy religious freedoms the same way Americans do. However, a new report suggests that Christians in China are even worse off than many realized.
“Authorities in China are detaining Christians in secretive, mobile ‘transformation’ facilities to make them renounce their faith,” Radio Free Asia reported on Thursday.
RFA reportedly spoke to a Christian from the Chinese province of Sichuan who said he was held in one of the alleged brainwashing camps, run by the Chinese Communist Party’s United Front Work Department. He asked to be identified by the pseudonym Li Yuese.
“It was a mobile facility, that could just set up in some basement somewhere,” Li said. “It was staffed by people from several different government departments.”
“It had its own (CCP) political and legal affairs committee working group, and they mainly target Christians who are members of house churches.”
The CCP is unabashedly against religion, and the party has long been attempting to shut down religious activity in the nation.
China does have a self-identified Protestant body called the Three-Self Patriotic Movement that is supposedly backed by the CCP. According to ChinaSource, however, the official churches within this body have become somewhat corrupted.
“By the mid-1950s … TSPM-affiliated churches (or official churches) became increasingly politicized as Maoist rhetoric replaced traditional sermons and multiple churches were forcibly merged into a handful of congregations and denominational identities erased,” the outlet reported.
“For example, Beijing had more than sixty churches before the mergers; afterwards, fewer than five survived. Public worship attendance dwindled.”
For the above reasons, many unofficial “house churches” became increasingly popular in China. Those churches are the ones most often raided by Chinese state security police and religious affairs bureau officials, RFA reported.
Li told the outlet he was a member of a house church and said he was detained in one of the aforementioned “transformation” facilities after his church was raided in 2018.
Li said when he was taken to the camp, he was held in a room with no windows for almost 10 months. He alleged that the staff abused him verbally and physically, and told the outlet he was even “mentally tortured.”
“They threaten, insult and intimidate you,” Li said. “These were United Front officials, men, women, sometimes unidentified, usually in plain clothes. The police turn a blind eye to this.”
In addition, detainees are reportedly forced to recite a pre-written message in order to be let out of the camp.
“You have to accept the statement they prepare for you,” he said. “If you refuse, you will be seen as having a bad attitude and they will keep you in detention and keep on beating you.”
Since there are reportedly no windows and the Christians are essentially held in a basement, Li said it is hard to keep any concept of time. He also told RFA that the prisoners were never allowed outside.
Many detainees allegedly resorted to self-harm, including Li himself.
“I couldn’t sleep; after you’ve been in there a week, death starts to look better than staying there,” he said. “I bashed myself against the wall to self-harm.”
If there was ever a great argument for the importance of the First Amendment, this story is it. Obviously, this is an extreme example, but it does display how thankful Americans should be for our religious freedom in this country.
In addition, this report highlights just how evil the Chinese Communist Party allegedly is.
President Joe Biden and his administration should not hesitate to send a strong message to China that such actions by Chinese federal government agencies will not be tolerated.
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