Chinese authorities are setting quotas on the number of Christians that must be arrested and are threatening police officers with dismissal if they don’t meet the minimum standards, according to a magazine that monitors religious freedom in the country.
The magazine, Bitter Winter, reported that the National Security Bureau in Liaoning’s Dalian city sets the standards, which are based on a “100-point evaluation system.” Bitter Winter interviewed a police officer from the city.
“If the assigned quarterly arrest quotas are not met, the station chief faces losing his job,” Bitter Winter reported. “To fulfill the quotas, police stations distributed a list of previously arrested believers to local communities and building managers to keep an eye on such persons and report to the police if they notice suspicious activities.”
All faiths are targeted. That includes Falun Gong, a meditation-based religion.
The arrest of a local Christian church leader is worth 10 points on the 100-point scale, according to Bitter Winter. Police stations often “buy” lists of previously arrested Christians from other police stations.
“Police officers have been ordered to arrest any believer who has in possession three or more religious books and transfer such persons to the National Security Brigade for interrogation,” Bitter Winter reported.
The police officer told Bitter Winter he doesn’t want to arrest innocent Christians but fears the consequences if he doesn’t.
The news comes as China intensifies its new crackdown on Christianity. More than 100 Christians, including one of China’s most well-known pastors, were arrested Dec. 10 for not registering and for not obeying a new Chinese law that restricts proselytizing and posting Christian content online.
Early Rain Covenant Church is an unregistered congregation in Sichuan province, according to Open Doors, which reported the arrests.
Although many illegal house churches operate underground, Early Rain has worshiped openly. The pastor, Wang Yi, had defied authorities by posting sermons online and evangelizing on the streets.
Wang is known worldwide as a supporter of religious freedom. He met at the White House with President George W. Bush more than a decade ago.
The church released a letter from the pastor, who said he would use “non-violent” methods to oppose unbiblical laws, according to Open Doors.
“My Savior Christ also requires me to joyfully bear all costs for disobeying wicked laws,” Wang wrote.
Michael Foust is a freelance writer. Visit his blog, MichaelFoust.com.