Wikimedia Commons
Wikimedia Commons

Christians hoping to celebrate the New Year with a religious calendar are in for a nasty surprise. Those living in China’s Henan province recently learned that such things have been forbidden by the regime as part of its ever increasing crackdown on Christianity.

A member of Xigong district’s De’en Church said that his congregation had prepared a Christ-centered calendar for members of the church. When they went to get it printed, however, the local shop told them that they could not have it printed as faith-based calendars had been forbidden by the government. This rule was not only applied to this single town or district either. Print shops across the communist country have been ordered to cease printing any material that has ties to religion.

“A desk calendar or a picture to hang on the wall,” said the owner of one small print shop, “We’re not allowed to print anything if it has any content related to Jesus.” The owner also said that the government is keeping a close eye on print shops to ensure the regulation is followed. Officials from the Bureau for Industry and Commerce, the owner said, “frequently” visit the shop to check he is obeying the rule.

The ban is not only limited to small, local establishments either. A larger print shop manager stated, “The government doesn’t allow printing of materials related to religions like Buddhism and Christianity. Sometimes, a small printing house secretly prints religious materials. As soon as the government catches them, a fine will be imposed. Formal print shops never dare to print [religious materials],” the manager said. “If anyone is found [to have printed religious materials], they will be fined a large amount of money. The print shops that have been cracked down on and forcibly closed are not in the minority.”

China has always been hostile to religion, but the recent crackdown by Xi has taken things to a new level.

“They have always prohibited us from printing such things,” the owner of a small print shop said. “If they discover that we have printed religion-related items, the government will punish us according to the quantity printed. Now, the control is even stricter. If anyone dares to print religious materials secretly and is caught, in minor cases, they will be fined, and their shops will be closed down; in severe cases, they will face the prospect of being detained.”

Detainment, of course, has become almost routine for Christians and other religious Chinese recently. Hundreds of Christians have been arrested, detained and tortured for following their faith, and China’s internment of Uighur Muslims in so-called reeducation camps has made international news.

Sadly, none of this is surprising. China’s record of oppression is clear, and it only continues today. One can only hope things will change soon, but it is best not to hold your breath. You could be holding it for a long time.

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