China began a three-phase plan in 2012 to get rid of unregistered house churches. Human rights group China Aid kept track of the numbers of last year’s persecution against the Chinese Christians and the numbers are damning. About five thousand Christians were affected by persecution and, roughly 1,441 were detained, nine were sentenced, and 37 were tortured. Beijing was the area with the highest degree of persecution.
The recent election of Xi Jingping has not made any difference for the Christians, either. One Pastor, who has been under house arrest with his wife since for almost two years, recently had his outside exercise privileges taken away for attending a weekly prayer meeting at a church. The three phase plan consists of investigation and research of house churches (January-June 2012), the second phase is the “crackdown” phase that has continued into this year. During the second phase the government will try to convince house churches to become “house gatherings” and thus banning the former term. Churches are being encouraged to join the Three-Self Patriotic Movement and many have to avoid persecution, but joining this movement would give the government more power over these places of worship. For example, a church that is part of the TSPM gives the government sermon editing rights. The third phase would be of course to completely eradicate these churches that do not comply with the TSPM.
Protestant house Churches are numbered at about 45-60 million in China today.
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