published with permission from Dr. Albert Mohler
The news out of China grows worse as reports of the arrest, detention, harassment, and beatings of Christians come from across China. The most publicized case thus far is the repeated oppression against a Beijing congregation which has led to numerous arrests and a crackdown within China’s capital.
In a very important editorial statement, The Wall Street Journal’s editorial board set the record straight. “Religious persecution is always abhorrent, but in this case it’s also a political blunder,” the paper stated.
The incident is a microcosm of the wider problems caused by China’s crackdown. Beijing insists it wants to promote a harmonious and stable society. Yet by arresting prominent activists for no apparent reason, the security forces are doing the opposite: Those who were once content to live quietly with the Party’s restrictions on free expression are now compelled to speak out.
Observers warn that China is sending the signal that it will not allow the eruption of protests like those that have spread throughout the Middle East and North Africa.
There is more to it of course. Central to this crackdown is the paranoia of the Community Party. One of the hallmarks of democratic societies is the existence of thriving “mediating institutions” between the individual and the brute power of the state. In the United States these mediating institutions include everything from the PTA to your local church and the neighborhood reading club.
One dimension of the Communist Party’s idolatry is that is allows no mediating institutions between its power and the individual. It greatly fears these organizations, and especially the church.
One reason — Christians in China now outnumber members of the Community Party.
China’s strategy was detailed by the paper’s editorial:
This may come as a surprise to some in the West. Until recently, Beijing had played a skillful game of applying the screws just enough to keep everybody in line while easing state control over most aspects of people’s lives, including employment, choice of a spouse, housing, religion and even the ability to criticize the government in limited terms. International human rights advocates had to admit that most Chinese enjoyed greater freedom than ever before, and many foreigners downplayed arrests of dissidents as aberrations against a general trend of liberalization.
In other words, “those who doubted the Communist Party’s sincerity were right all along.”
“Caesar in Beijing,” The Wall Street Journal,” Saturday, April 23, 2011.
Published with permission from Dr. Albert Mohler
The church is known as Shouwang, or the Lighthouse. It is located in Beijing, but it does not have a building. What is does have is enemies — and chief among them the Chinese government.
As The New York Times reports, the Shouwang Church is a so-called house church, even though its membership and attendance would outstrip any residence. The key issue is that Shouwang is one of China’s thousands of unregistered churches. This is true, even though Shouwang has applied for registration.
In recent months, the church even raised $4 million to purchase a building. Instead, the church was forced into the streets, where its members were arrested for the crime of public prayer.
As Andrew Jacobs reported:
Evicted yet again from its meeting place by the authorities, Shouwang announced this month that its congregants would worship outside rather than disband or go back underground. Its demands were straightforward but bold: allow the church to take possession of the space it had legally purchased. Officials responded with a clenched fist. On Sunday, for the second week in a row, the police rounded up scores of parishioners who tried to pray outdoors at a public plaza. Most of the church’s leadership is now in custody or under house arrest. Its Web site has been blocked.
This is a truly alarming development, but it is actually in keeping with the periodic repression of Christians that has been demanded by the Chinese Communist Party. The church has maintained a steadfastly nonpolitical stance, but the Chinese government clearly sees this church — and the thousands like it — as a threat.
As the paper reports, Chine has been cracking down on dissent in recent months. Churches in Guangzhou have had their facilities taken away. The advocacy group China Aid claims that at least 3,343 Chinese house church members were detained or beaten in 2010. Some experts estimate that two-thirds of China’s Christians worship in house churches.
This current outbreak of persecution may have been sparked by the Chinese government’s outrage over plans by some house church leaders to attend the recent Lausanne Congress on World Evangelization in South Africa. Most of the leaders were detained and prevented from attending the meeting.
To understand how the Chinese government exerts its oppressive power, just consider this paragraph:
Shouwang’s latest troubles began again three years ago, shortly after its application for official recognition was denied. Officers from the Beijing Public Security Bureau burst into Sunday services, pronounced the gathering illegal and wrote down the personal details of everyone in the room, one by one. In the days that followed, calls were made to congregants’ employers or college administrators. Many congregants say they were threatened with dismissal from jobs or school if they did not switch to an official church. Some left, but Shouwang’s ranks continued to grow.
How many of our American church members would disappear if officials went about threatening jobs and college placements?
Ominously, the Chinese government has spoken its mind through official state-owned newspapers. On of these papers, the Global Times, ran n editorial last week that stated: “All Christians, as well as those of other faiths, are Chinese citizens first and foremost. It is their obligation to observe discipline and abide by the law.”
“But our citizenship is in heaven,” Paul reminds us, “and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ.” [Phil. 3:20]
While the New Testament commands Christians to obey the righteous laws of a nation, believers cannot bend the knee to the regime as their primary allegiance. No Christian is “first and foremost” a citizen of any earthy kingdom or nation. This is a despotic demand for the idolatrous worship of the state.
One Shouwang member spoke with Christian courage. He told The New York Times, even as his doorway was blocked by police: “I am fully prepared to go to jail for my church. I belong to the Lord, and if this is what God intended, so be it.”
We must pray for persecuted Christians around the world, including these brave believers in China. Let’s keep this verse in mind, even as we pray for them:
“The Lord will rescue me from every evil deed and bring me safely into his heavenly kingdom. To him be the glory forever and ever. Amen.” [1 Timothy 4:18]
After all, it was written by a man who had direct experience with being persecuted for the sake of the Gospel, and was about to be martyred for his devotion to Christ.
I am always glad to hear from readers. Write me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow regular updates on Twitter at www.twitter.com/AlbertMohler.
Andrew Jacobs, “Illicit Church, Evicted, Tries to Buck Beijing,” The New York Times, Wednesday, April 18, 2011.
The reality has been known for years now, though the Western media have generally resisted any direct coverage of the horror. That changed this week when The Economist published its stunning cover story — “Gendercide — What Happened to 100 Million Baby Girls?”
In many nations of the world, there is an all-out war on baby girls. In 1990, economist Amartya Sen estimated that 100 million baby girls were missing — sacrificed by parents who desired a son. Two decades later, multiple millions of missing baby girls must be added to that total, victims of abortion, infanticide, or fatal neglect.
The murder of girls is especially common in China and northern India, where a preference for sons produces a situation that is nothing less than critical for baby girls. In these regions, there are 120 baby boys born for every 100 baby girls. As The Economist explains, “Nature dictates that slightly more males are born than females to offset boys’ greater susceptibility to infant disease. But nothing on this scale.”
In its lead editorial, the magazine gets right to the essential point: “It is no exaggeration to call this gendercide. Women are missing in their millions–aborted, killed, neglected to death.”
In its detailed and extensive investigative report, the magazine opens its article with chilling force. A baby girl is born in China’s Shandong province. Chinese writer Xinran Xue, present for the birth, then hears a man’s voice respond to the sight of the newborn baby girl. “Useless thing,” he cried in disappointment. The witness then heard a plop in the slops pail. “To my absolute horror, I saw a tiny foot poking out of the pail. The midwife must have dropped that tiny baby alive into the slops pail!” When she tried to intervene she was restrained by police. An older woman simply explained to her, “Doing a baby girl is not a big thing around here.”
The number of dead and missing baby girls is astounding. In some Chinese provinces, there are more than 130 baby boys for every 100 baby girls. The culture places a premium value on sons, and girls are considered an economic drain. A Hindu saying conveys this prejudice: “Raising a daughter is like watering your neighbor’s garden.”
Midwives even charge more for the birth of a baby boy. But the preference for a boy rises with both economic power and the number of children born to a couple. The imbalance of boys to girls is no accident — it reflects a prejudice that runs throughout the societies where the abortion and killing of baby girls is considered both understandable and routine.
Add to this the widespread availability of ultrasound imaging services. Even though the governments of China and India have officially declared sex-selection abortions to be illegal, they persist by the millions. (And, interestingly, the magazine notes that Sweden actually legalized sex-selection abortions in 2009.)
This sentence from the investigative report is particularly horrifying: “In one hospital in Punjab, in northern India, the only girls born after a round of ultrasound scans had been mistakenly identified as boys, or else had a male twin.”
In other words, even as the spread of ultrasound technology has greatly aided the pro-life movement by making the humanity of the unborn baby visible and undeniable, among those determined to give birth only to baby boys, in millions of cases the same technology has meant a death warrant for a baby girl in the womb.
There are multiple factors that lead to the preference for boys over girls. In China, the government’s draconian “one child only” policy has led to both forced abortions and an effective death sentence for baby girls when a couple is determined that, if their children are to be so drastically limited, they will insist on having a son. As the magazine explains, “For millions of couples, the answer is: abort the daughter, try for a son.”
In fact the destruction of baby girls is a product of three forces: the ancient preference for sons; a modern desire for smaller families; and ultrasound scanning and other technologies that identify the sex of a fetus. In societies where four or six children were common, a boy would almost certainly come along eventually; son preference did not need to exist at the expense of daughters. But now couples want two children—or, as in China, are allowed only one—they will sacrifice unborn daughters to their pursuit of a son. That is why sex ratios are most distorted in the modern, open parts of China and India. It is also why ratios are more skewed after the first child: parents may accept a daughter first time round but will do anything to ensure their next—and probably last—child is a boy. The boy-girl ratio is above 200 for a third child in some places.
The social consequences of this imbalance are vast and uncorrectable. China and India now face the reality of millions of young men and boys who have absolutely no hope of a wife and family. In China, these young men are called guanggun or “broken branches.” Just consider this — the 30 to 40 million “broken branches” in China are about equal in number to the total number of all boys and young men in the United States.
These young men represent a looming disaster on the societal level. Young males commit the greatest number of criminal acts and acts of violence. Marriage has been the great taming institution for the social development of young males. Without prospect for marriage and a normal sex and family life, these multiple millions of unmarried young men are becoming a significant social challenge in China and India. Some observers even argue that this may lead to an increased militarism in the region.
Of course, the greatest disaster is personal for the young men and boys who face the future as “broken branches.” The parents who insist on having boys are dooming their own sons to lives of brokenness, frustration, and grief.
And the future looks even more ominous for baby girls. Nick Eberstadt of the American Enterprise Institute points to “the fatal collision between overweening son preference, the use of rapidly spreading prenatal sex-determination technology and declining fertility.” As the magazine adds, “Over the next generation, many of the problems associated with sex selection will get worse. The social consequences will become more evident because the boys born in large numbers over the past decade will reach maturity then. Meanwhile, the practice of sex selection itself may spread because fertility rates are continuing to fall and ultrasound scanners reach throughout the developing world.”
While imbalances such as now found in China and India are unknown in the West, the practice of sex-selection abortion is found here as well. Indeed, there is no current law against the practice in the United States, where abortion is legal for any reason, at least in earlier stages of pregnancy. In reality, sex selection abortions happen here, too. After all, proponents of abortion in the United States infamously insist on a woman’s unrestricted right to an abortion “for any reason, or for no reason.”
The Economist is right to call this tragedy gendercide — the targeting of baby girls for death and destruction simply because of their gender. The magazine deserves appreciation for its no-holds-barred report on this tragedy, and for forcing the issue to be faced. Furthermore, The Economist ends its editorial with the right message, “The world needs to do more to prevent a gendercide that will have the sky crashing down.”
Will reports like this awaken the conscience of the world to the unspeakable crime and global tragedy of gendercide? If not, what will it take? The blood of millions of murdered and missing baby girls cries out to the world’s conscience. Will we hear?
The vast nation of China remains under the control of one of the few surviving Communist regimes on the planet. Over the last two decades, that regime has redefined Communist economic theory, allowing private capital and a consumer market to emerge alongside state control and ownership. Nevertheless, the totalitarian nature of the regime reaches even into the most intimate dimensions of life. The most insidious example of this totalitarian impulse is China’s infamous “one child only” policy.
The policy limits most Chinese couples to only one child. Reports of forced abortions and sterilizations abound. Couples in rural areas with a girl as their only child may apply for permission for a second child, in hopes of a boy.
The preference for boys is overwhelming in the Chinese culture, and especially in rural areas. The urgent desire for sons has led to two horrifying developments — the abortion of girls and the abduction of boys. The abortion of baby girls is now a well-established fact. The abduction of boys in China is less known in the West, but it is now attracting attention. As The New York Times reported April 4, 2009, “Although some are sold to buyers in Singapore, Malaysia and Vietnam, most of the boys are purchased domestically by families desperate for a male heir, parents of abducted children and some law enforcement officials who have investigated the matter say.”
The mentality behind the preference for boys is reflected in this comment made to the paper by a man who paid $3,500 for an abducted 5-year-old boy: “A girl is just not as good as a son. . . . It doesn’t matter how much money you have. If you don’t have a son, you are not as good as other people who have one.” The abduction of boys, usually very young, is now “a thriving business,” according to the Times.
A clearer picture of the practice of aborting girl babies is also now available, thanks to the British Medical Journal. The picture is nothing less than horrifying. The arrival of ultrasound technology has made the identification of fetal gender a deadly reality for unborn baby girls. They are aborted by the millions.
The demographics are reported in stark terms:
In 2005 males under the age of 20 exceeded females by more than 32 million in China, and more than 1.1 million excess births of boys occurred. China will see very high and steadily worsening sex ratios in the reproductive age group over the next two decades.
In other words, the problem of the gender imbalance has now reached the point that there is, practically speaking, no way to do anything about the present generation. Millions of Chinese young men will have no opportunity to marry. The sociological impact is beyond imagination.
The British study points to a phenomenon known as the “at least one son practice.” Many Chinese couples will do just about whatever it takes to have a son. If their first child is a girl and the couple receives permission for a second child, the report makes clear that the abortion of a baby girl at that point is exceedingly likely.
[T]he steady rise in sex ratios across the birth cohorts since 1986 mirrors the increasing availability of ultrasonography over that period. The first ultrasound machines were used in the early 1980s; they reached county hospitals by the late 1980s and then rural townships by the mid-1990s. Since then, ultrasonography has been very cheap and available even to the rural poor. Termination of pregnancy is also very available, in line with the one child policy.
As William Saletan of Slate.com explains, “It’s a terrible convergence of ancient prejudice with modern totalitarianism. Girls are culturally and economically devalued; the government uses powerful financial levers to prevent you from having another child; therefore, to make sure you can have a boy, you abort the girl you’re carrying.”
Though sex-selection abortions are officially illegal in China, the totalitarian regime has made abortion a centerpiece of its “one child only” policy. Ultrasound machines and abortion clinics are available virtually everywhere in China — and both are put to deadly use.
Here we see abortion and totalitarianism hand in hand, resulting in the deaths of millions of baby girls and the abduction of at least thousands of young boys. When human life is devalued and abortion is state policy, the Culture of Death is institutionalized. When the “one child policy” and an ancient and ingrained preference for boys are combined, the womb becomes a deadly place to be a girl.