Over 40 Christian protesters involved in the pro-democracy demonstrations in Hong Kong have been receiving threatening messages.
The messages have been sent to believers from various churches, seminaries, publishers and faith-based organizations, and have come from unknown sources, according to International Christian Concern.
As well as knowing details of the recipient’s personal data, the anonymous senders have been warning the Christians to stop being involved in the unrest or face severe consequences. “If you don’t stop voicing your opinion, all the members of your family will die,” one message read, “your limbs will be chopped off.”
One of those who has been sent the intimidating message is Assistant professor Dr. John Chan of the Alliance Bible Seminary. Initially, he chose to delete the messages and block the user without telling anyone. But when he spoke to his colleagues about the interactions, he was shocked to discover that four of them had experienced the same thing — the group went on to set up a support chat group, with 30 other believers who have all been receiving similar threats.
John said that he and his concerned colleagues were shocked by how much personal information the senders seem to have acquired. “When Flow Church live-streamed a service recently, the sender watched it; if a certain preacher would be speaking this week,” Chan explained.. “he even knows who has a younger sister and where she works at.”
As the protests continue to rage, Christians are becoming increasingly concerned about the threat of government-led oppression of their right to religious freedom and expression.
“It’s important to remember that if general freedoms in Hong Kong are further eroded, sooner or later religious freedom will be affected.” Ben Rogers, the co-founder of human rights charity “Hong Kong Watch,” told Premier UK.
“If Hong Kong’s way of life is dismantled, then the church will be directly affected in that way, and so pray specifically for the church at this time in Hong Kong,” he added, before urging fellow believers to “pray for an end to violence on both sides and pray for a peaceful political solution to this crisis.”
Last week, as protesters occupied Hong Kong’s Polytechnic University, a brief moment of hope emerged, as a prominent Christian leader was caught on camera praying for a teenage protester.
Despite sweeping victories for pro-democracy candidates in Hong Kong’s district council elections this weekend, China reasserted its authority by assuring the population that it will continue to rule over the region from Beijing.
“No matter how the situation in Hong Kong changes, it is very clear that Hong Kong is a part of Chinese territory,” Chinese foreign minister Wang Yi said following Sunday’s vote, according to the Guardian. “Any attempts to disrupt Hong Kong or undermine its stability and prosperity will not succeed.”
A record 4.1 million people registered to vote — more than half of Hong Kong’s entire population.