A picture comparing a church in Nazi Germany (left) and one in modern day China (The Voice of the Martyrs Korea)

The crackdown on Christians in China – which continues – has been compared to the Nazification of Germany in the 1930s by two prominent human rights leaders.

Actions by the Chinese Communist government, including editing the Ten Commandments, retranslating Bibles, and decking church sanctuaries with national flags and images of national leaders, have all been cited as examples of the pressure being put on churches.

The Rev Dr Eric Foley, CEO of Voice of the Martyrs Korea, compares the current Chinese regime to

Pastor Wang Yi posing with a sign, ‘Pray for the nation on 4 June,’ the date of the Tiananmen Square killings in 1989. Pastor Wang and his wife have since been detained by security forces (China Aid)

the Nazi era.

He said: “Put the photos of 1930s German church sanctuaries and 2019 Chinese church sanctuaries side by side. Put the speeches of the leaders and officials side by side. The similarities are striking.

“[President] Xi Jinping calls it Sinification – freeing Christianity and other religions from foreign cultural entanglement. Hitler called it Nazification. Both pledged freedom of religion to those who would hang national flags and leaders’ portraits in their sanctuaries. Both trotted out theologians who insisted the Bible needed to be retranslated to be properly understood. Both accused those who disagreed of seeking to subvert the state.”

The CEO is not alone in comparing the current situation in China with Nazi Germany.

“Think Stalin and Hitler, not Mao,” said the Rev Dr Bob Fu, founder and director of China Aid, a US-based organisation that helps Chinese Christians and reports on human rights and religious freedom developments in China. “China is now taking a page from the 1930s totalitarian playbook.

“Whereas before the government’s goal was to stamp out Christianity, now all efforts are directed at co-opting the moral influence of Christianity and other faiths to advance the Communist Party’s social agenda.”

The Rev Dr Bob Fu has signed an appeal to the Chinese government for imprisoned members of the Early Rain Covenant Church in Chengdu, Sichuan Province. Police took 100 Christians captive from the church in December, including Pastor Wang Yi and his wife Jiang Rong.

On 24 February another 44 church members were taken, including “kids, seniors and pregnant women”. Pastor Wang’s 74-year-old mother was “humiliated and beaten by police”. The youngest captive held at Chengdu police station is two months old.

The appeal says: “Tang Chunliang and other brothers and sisters were beaten violently and slapped on the face by a plainclothes police officer at the police station. All of them, including the children, had no access to food. Some of them were not released until 2am. The sleepy children slept on the ice-cold desks and floor.”