In their latest tactic aimed at oppressing people of faith, Chinese authorities have now started banning Christian funerals.
According to a report in Bitter Winter, communist officials have even been arresting family members and halting proceedings mid-service if they deem the ceremony to be too religious in nature. The action is part of China’s wider policy to sinicize the Christian faith and ensure the country’s religious culture is aligned with the political ideals of President Xi Jinping.
“The situation is quite adverse, and some believers don’t even dare to accompany the deceased to the graveyard,” an elder of a government-sanctioned Three-Self church explained to Bitter Winter.
The restrictions are also being enshrined in law. For example, in one city in the province of Henan, an ordinance has been passed that prohibits “visiting groups, choirs, orchestras, and other groups” from performing anywhere other than a church.
“The government prohibits religious funerals, and doesn’t allow church choirs or orchestras to perform during them,” the church elder added. “Pastors can only sneak into believers’ homes for a hurried prayer.”
In another Henan town, a law was passed that prevents ministers from “using religion to intervene in citizens’ weddings and funerals or other activities in their lives.”
There was even an instance of police officers halting the funeral of a local preacher because they deemed that the service was proliferating “religious propaganda.”
The family of one Christian man said they were outraged when government officials instructed that they must hold a secular funeral, even though he was a faithful follower of Jesus for years.
“When my father died, village officials threatened to arrest us if we didn’t conduct a secular funeral. We did not dare to go against them,” the villager explained. “My father had been a believer for several decades. He is persecuted even after death.”
Open Doors USA estimates that there are roughly 100 million Christians currently residing in China. Despite it being one of the harshest environments on earth in which to live as a believer, the underground church continues to explode in numbers.