DECKER: China’s Diocletian

Beijing cracks down on faith in officially atheist state

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Easter is a dangerous time to be a Christian in communist China. Holy Week - which commemorates the arrest, torture, crucifixion and eventual resurrection of Jesus Christ - witnessed an increase in government-directed violence and persecution against followers of Jesus. China’s Communist Party cracks down on believers because trust in an all-powerful God undermines blind allegiance to the idea of an all-powerful state.

The toppling of Egyptian strongman Hosni Mubarak and uprisings in other authoritarian regimes in the Middle East have communists panicking in the Middle Kingdom. The average Arab potentate has a tighter grip and a much smaller population to control than Beijing. If Libya’s Moammar Gadhafi, Syria’s Bashar Assad or Arabia’s House of Saud can be threatened by people-power movements, there’s no doubt the People's Republic of China (PRC) is vulnerable to mass unrest among its 1.3 billion oppressed souls.

Beijing’s reaction to democratic protests around the world has been to clamp down hard on its own people to discourage any public manifestations of discontent. On Easter morning, 500 Christians were put under house arrest to prevent them from going to services that day, according to ChinaAid. Countless more have been arrested nationwide. This is part of “Operation Deterrence,” a new tyranny unleashed against churches late last year.

In December, the Politburo of the Chinese Communist Party officially branded the community of house churches in the entire country a cult, and thus outside the law. David Aikman, author of “Jesus in Beijing,” compares today’s PRC policies to the worst period of repression in the late Roman Empire. Mr. Aikman, the former Beijing bureau chief for Time magazine, calls the communist government “China’s Diocletian,” referring to the Roman emperor who unleashed the legions on Christians in 303 A.D.

The percentage of Romans who were said to be Christian during Diocletian’s time - about 10 percent - is the same number some estimate to be Christian in contemporary China. The butchers in Beijing consider this spiritual growth dangerous to their grip on power. That’s why the communists are throwing so many Christians to the lions.

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About the Author
Brett M. Decker

Brett M. Decker

Brett M. Decker, former Editorial Page Editor for The Washington Times, was an editorial page writer and editor for the Wall Street Journal in Hong Kong, Senior Vice President of the Export-Import Bank, Senior Vice President of Pentagon Federal Credit Union, speechwriter to then-House Majority Whip (later Majority Leader) Tom DeLay and reporter and television producer for the legendary Robert ...

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