Christians in China say the latest wave of persecution against them is worse than what the church experienced during the height of Mao's Cultural Revolution. Christians have suffered ongoing pressures under President Xi Jinping, but they say government oppression has intensified since the onset of the global Covid-19 pandemic earlier this year.
July 22nd, 2020: A loud knock on the door could be heard at the home of a woman in China's Xiamen city. She told the police outside they could not enter her home without a permit.
Moments later, they destroy the lock and entered anyway, breaking up what the government said was an illegal meeting.
Four days later, on Sunday, July 26th, government workers removed the cross from the roof of Small River Christian Church in Xinfeng county, Jiangxi province.
These are just two recent examples – both incidents that occurred just days ago in the Chinese Communist Party's crackdown on Christians and their churches.
China Aid President Bob Fu said this wave of persecution actually began in 2015, but now the Chinese Communist Party has a new excuse for targeting Christians.
"Now under this pretext of Covid-19 coronavirus, the Chinese Communist Party has intensified its persecution by banning all the church activities – even those worship services, prayer meetings in believers' own homes with their own family members."
The government has also used this as an excuse to arrest Christians who called for on-line prayer meetings.
CBN has reported on the removal of crosses from church buildings and this month it picked up steam. In addition to the Small River Church cross removal, on July 7th more than 100 Public Security Bureau (PSB) police and others were sent to oversee the demolition of crosses at Aodi Christian Church and Yinchang Christian Church in China's Zhejiang province.
Security guards reportedly beat Christians who tried to stop the cross removals. Church members said those injured included a man in his eighties, violently pushed to the ground.
And on July 5th, police interrupted services at Guilin Enguang Church, arresting church elders.
Hours later, church members sang hymns outside the Seven Star Public Security Bureau station as they awaited the release of their leaders.
Fu said it is all a part of a new campaign of Sinicization which means Christians are only considered to be good citizens if they adhere to communist ideology.
"Ironically Xi Jinping's portrait was even put on the church pulpit along with Chairman Mao and the first line item of worship by the government-sanctioned church before Covid-19 was to sing the Communist Party National Anthem," Fu explained.
Examples go beyond churches. In Fuzhou city, a Catholic family was forced out of their government-subsidized housing after they refused to remove religious icons from their home.
And China's Religious Affairs Bureau (RAB) has banned "religious funeral ceremonies" and preaching in funeral places.
Meanwhile, Christians aren't the only ones suffering. Ethnic Uyghurs from East Turkistan – a region the Chinese government calls Xinjiang – are under attack.
"China is home to one of the worst human rights crises of our time. It is truly the stain of the century," US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo insisted.
The US Council on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) goes further, calling it genocide.
For years, the Chinese government has forced Uyghur women to undergo abortions. Now a new development.
The President of the East Turkistan Government in Exile told me on the Global Lane that China is also conducting forced sterilization.
"Hundreds of thousands of Uyghur and other Turkic women have been forcibly sterilized by the Chinese government. China has a long-standing policy of forcibly aborting Uyghur and other Turkic babies. In fact, according to the Chinese government, between 1979 and 2009 they prevented 3.7-million illegal births in East Turkistan."
Also, Hudayar and the US Department of Defense said China has forcibly detained as many as 3-million Uyghur in re-education and forced labor camps.
"Beijing described Xijiang's internment camps as vocational training camps. New reports of forced abortions and sterilizations add to a body of evidence that contradicts that," Pompeo explained.
The US State Department has alerted corporate CEO's and others about China's use of Uyghur slave labor so they won't become involved. Meanwhile, the East Turkistan Government in Exile is taking its case to the International Criminal Court (ICC).
But whether it is the persecution of Uyghurs or Christians, China's communist government is likely to ignore international outrage – describing it as "foreign interference" in Chinese internal affairs.