CHINESE authorities are clamping down on underground churches and threatening to “transform the thoughts” of Christians who do not comply.
The communist party strictly monitors religion with Christians expected to attend state-approved churches.
But unverified reports found on Chinese social media show a wave of underground churches have begun to thrive as Christians turn their back on the China Christian Council.
Government officials are said to be ready to crack down on unregistered churches ordering priests to report to the council.
According to leaked reports, Chinese Communist Party Chairman Xi Jinping emphasised the importance of the state handling religious matters in a recent meeting.
Express.co.uk understands if unregistered churches are not willing to be guided by the council they will be put on record by the secretive regime under new government proposals to deal with unregistered churches.
In a chilling order “if unregistered churches are not willing to be managed by the government or guided by China Christian Council, the government shall guide and transform their thoughts”.
Chinese authorities are also expected to take a hard line on “extreme religious thoughts” and “external influences”.
Open Doors UK, a Christian advocacy charity, said: “Jinping reiterated that China shall maintain various religions independent from external influences, avoid being influenced by extreme religious thoughts and assimilate religions with the socialism with Chinese characteristics.”
Authorities in Zhejiang Province have also reportedly banned religious activity in hospital.
Priests have been forbidden from praying for the sick and dying in a Protestant hospital.
Under the new rules patients are also banned from praying and reading the bible.
And the 57,000 churches of the state-controlled Three-Self movement also forbids teachers and soldiers from becoming Christians.
The United States has criticised China for its restrictions on religious practices that are deemed a threat to the ruling Communist Party.
The ruling Chinese Communist Party is officially atheist with more than half of China’s 1.4billion population not associated with any religion or belief.
Those following one of China’s five officially recognised religions – Buddhism, Taoism, Islam, Catholicism, and Protestantism – and affiliated with one of the corresponding state-sanctioned “patriotic religious associations” are protected in theory from the government’s crackdown on religion.
Full article: Chinese government shuts down underground churches to ‘transform thoughts’ of Christians (Express)