Fr. Deacon Andrew Bennett, Director of the Religious Freedom Institute’s (RFI) North America Action Team, recently moderated a discussion on “Mao vs. God: State Control of Churches in China under Xi,” hosted by Cardus Religious Freedom Institute, which Bennett also directs. The event examined the extent and modes of China’s persecution of Christians, what motivates it, and impacts of that persecution on Canadian Christian communities with connections to China.
In particular, the discussion focused on the destruction and conversion of church buildings, imprisonment of pastors and priests, and use of various forms of coercion to compel Chinese Christians to renounce their faith. A core theme that emerged is the profound lack of understanding and sympathy regarding matters of faith among Chinese bureaucrats.
Guest speaker Benedict Rogers, RFI Senior Fellow, explained the severity of the threat to religious freedom in China: “China today is going through, what I would describe, as the worst crackdown on human rights as a whole since the Tiananmen massacre, and the worst assault on religious freedom specifically since the cultural revolution.”
Rogers believes there are three main reasons for China’s hostility towards religion. First, communism opposes religion because its ideology inherently contradicts it. Second, the Chinese government regards Christianity in particular as foreign, despite the long history of Christian communities within China. And finally, the Chinese government fears any large gathering of people that it cannot control.
In addition to Bennett and Rodgers, the event also featured remarks from David Mulroney of the University of Toronto and Canadian Member of Parliament David Sweet.
Watch the full event video: Mao vs. God: State Control of Churches in China under Xi.