Johnnie Moore and Rabbi Abraham Cooper have written an open letter to Chinese President Xi Jinping, decrying what they called the “heart-sinking” persecution of religious believers.
Moore, who is president of the Congress of Christian Leaders and a commissioner on the United States Commission for International Religious Freedom, called out the various crackdowns on Christians and Muslims in China in a letter published in Newsweek on Monday.
The letter, jointly written with Cooper, the associate dean and director of the Global Social Action Agenda at the Simon Wiesenthal Center, pointed out that China has been growing as an economic and political superpower in the 21st century.
“Yet, today, we fear we witness a heart-sinking regression as the Chinese government seems to be reaching for an altogether different set of values, values anchored in a darker time when religion, and religious leaders, were viewed as a threat instead of as valued citizens,” Moore and Cooper wrote.
“We urge you, as the undisputed leader of your nation, to put a halt to the recent closure of places of worship, the detention of clergy and believing citizens, and to policies that have forced the ‘reeducation’ of countless others, especially affecting your Muslim and Christian citizens,” they asked.
“What should the world choose to think about a government that will arbitrarily place hundreds-of-thousands of its own citizens into internment camps to ‘re-educate’ them, on the basis of their religion alone?”
Pastors and Christian believers have been crying out at the church demolitions, arrests of entire congregations, and raids of both official and underground churches, which intensified following the implementation of the revised religious regulations in February.
Reports from earlier this year separately found that close to one million Uighur Muslims are being held in Chinese concentration camps, supposedly for “re-education” purposes.
“The true test of a great civilization is not only its prosperity, its technology or its strength but its acceptance and tolerance of its people. No country, large or small, can claim to be great — let alone to be a leader in the world — while arbitrarily suppressing the small but steadfast prayers of a believer,” the reverend and the rabbi urged.
“Furthermore, rather than giving the world the impression that Chinese society is threatened by the free exercise of religion, China should, in fact, become a world leader that sees the value of pluralism and diversity in its society.”
Moore told The Christian Post in a phone interview in September that the communist government’s actions are “incomprehensible.”
“My personal experience with Chinese Christians is that they are incredibly patriotic about their country” and that they support their government, he told CP.
He positioned that the house churches are “filled with patriotic citizens.”
“Why now? Why all of a sudden?” he asked about the crackdowns.
“It’s a sign of weakness, it demonstrates paranoia,” Moore added.
Sam Brownback, the U.S. Ambassador at Large for International Religious Freedom, meanwhile spoke out against the latest major raids on Christians in China, when over 100 worshipers were detained at Early Rain Covenant Church in Chengdu. The church’s pastor, Wang Yi, was charged with state subversion.
“China’s using same old playbook: using political charges of ‘state subversion’ to attack Early Rain Church Pastor Wang Yi & wife Jiang Rong for simply practicing their faith. #China must respect the right to #freedomofreligion & belief guaranteed in Chinese Constitution,” Brownback wrote on Twitter on Tuesday.