Christians' persecution can be historically traced from the first century of the Christian era to the present day. Christian missionaries and converts have been martyred for their faith ever since the emergence of Christianity. Despite disputes and difficulties with numbers, there are indicators such as the Danish National Research Database, that Christians are, as of 2019, the most persecuted religious group in the world. As the most persecuted group globally, being a Christian in many areas is a constant matter of life and death. In 2016 approximately 90,000 Christians were killed across the globe. Estimates attribute nearly a third of these deaths to the hands of ISIS and other Islamic terror groups.
What drew my attention to this topic is an article published this week in The Epoch Times by Jocelyn Neo, entitled "Religious Books Seized and Burned in Communist China, 'Believers Given Jail Terms." The article details the impiety of China. Practicing a particular faith, printing, or even reading religious books can result in prison terms and abuse. China is a non-discriminatory persecutor. If you are a Christian, Buddhist, Uyghur Muslim, or even a Falun Gong practitioner, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) will put you in your place, probably a jail cell or concentration camp.
In my upcoming but yet unpublished book, Muslim Mechanics, I describe the Chinese practice of Iconoclasm. Iconoclasm is the deliberate destruction of icons or monuments, books, religious structures, usually for political motives. Back in 1458 B.C, one Egyptian pharaoh tried to erase from history the preceding pharaoh by destroying all of his statues, monuments, and hieroglyphs. Two thousand years later, in 711AD, the Byzantine emperor, Justinian II, had his image cast on the reverse side of gold coins with Jesus Christ on the obverse side. His predecessor, Leo III, passed an edict that forbade the worship of religious icons, and he confiscated all of the gold coins with Jesus' image on them.
So what the Chinese are doing is pretty standard throughout history. The Russians tried it when Lenin took over. One hundred years later, the Russian Orthodox Church has regained its membership and status, becoming the most widely professed faith in the former Soviet Union.
China's Persecution of Christians
Official estimates place the number of Christians in China at 44 million people. The unofficial estimate puts the total at 100+ million. There is no way to breakdown the demographics between Catholics and Protestants, but we can assume both are significant numbers. In the Catholic domain, the CCP appoints its Bishops. The Vatican does have the power to veto any Bishop but never has. While the CCP does have relations with the Vatican, they continue to destroy Catholic shrines periodically. Underground megachurches have been shut down, and Protestant pastors have received lengthy prison sentences.
The CCP policy is called "sinicization." The "sin" reflects the label for the Chinese ethnicity, not the "sin" they commit for heresy and blasphemy. The goal is to make religion an instrument of the Party. China's government bans minors from participating in church services. They forbid Sunday Schools and Bible camps, Christian symbols and pictures are being replaced with Chairman Xi's image, and the government may substitute biblical teachings with socialist values.
China's Persecution of Uyghur Muslims
While there are no official estimates of how many Muslims or how many Uyghur Muslims there are in China, the best ballpark estimates of Uyghur Muslims center around 14 million and 60 to 80 million total Muslims. Since 2016, the Chinese government has targeted the Uyghurs with vast surveillance and heavy policing. The Chinese government has created a system of camps with the purpose of reeducation that will reduce the religious values of the Uyghurs and hopefully replace it with loyalty to the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). About one million Uyghurs have been detained in these camps with the intent to break their culture and family values systematically. Boarding schools have been introduced where the children are removed from the family and brought up with CCP values. The Uyghurs are banned from fasting during Ramadan, they cannot name their children with traditionally Muslim names, and the adult men cannot wear the long beards that Muhammad ordained.
In the Xinjiang province where most Uyghurs live, the Chinese government prohibited minors from participating in religious activities to prohibit Islamic values from being passed down from adult to child. Uyghur academics, teachers, imam, and ulema have been detained or have disappeared in some cases. The CCP has offered Uyghur couples incentives to have fewer children and Uyghur women to marry outside of their race. Islamic headscarves and veils are discouraged. It would appear that the CCP is attempting to eradicate the Uyghur culture and replace it with Han inbreeding.
The commonality of Christians and Muslims
China's government is a godless organization of people. Christians are being persecuted by both the Chinese government and fundamentalist Muslims. The Chinese government is persecuting Uyghur Muslims. Both Muslims and Christians worship God. It would seem that Muslims would take a break from persecuting Christians which would give Christians an incentive to work with Muslims to fight the godless hordes that persecute God's believers.