The Adventist Church under Authoritarian Governments
Adventist believers around the world have suffered much from authoritarian and dictatorial regime, especially during times of war. During 1939 in Europe’s Romania, “Nazi led authoritarian regime led to close 90 percent of the Adventist
churches in Romania. And over 3,000 Romanian Adventists were jailed and some were sentenced for twenty-five-years.”195
At the same time in Asia, as “the war in China expanded, police surveillance
and harassment of Christian churches increased.”196 Subsequently restrictions were imposed upon the church by the communist-led Chinese government; the church was dramatically weakened soon after.
In Japan, church members were badly oppressed by the fascist government. The Japanese fascists were well known as aggressive attackers in the nearby countries of Asia. “In 1943 the Seventh-day Adventist Church in Japan was dissolved and its properties were ordered to be sold, largely because of government antagonism toward the continued preaching of Christ’s soon coming—an event that did not figure into the
plans of Japan’s military elite. That same year thirty-six national Seventh-day Adventist leaders and a number of laymen were imprisoned.”197
In Korea also Adventists suffered special persecution when their leader, Choi Tai Heun; died under torture during imprisonment.198 This was followed by the civil war in 1950, which resulted, in the north and the south portion of Korea peninsula being divided.
Naturally, the church around the world suffers when its members and leaders’ are persecuted and oppressed during wars. There is no reason that the Seventh-day Adventist Church to favor authoritarian and dictatorial regimes.
But there are still many challenges that hinder the Adventist church’s playing an active role in such ways as campaigning directly for freedom and democracy. For example in Myanmar, the authoritarian government occupied many of the church’s properties, including schools and hospitals, beginning in 1965. Later many
Christians suffered under the military government’s restriction of religious freedom.199 Here in Myanmar, the church needs to be proactive.
At the beginning of twenty-first century, many instances of oppression of Adventist believers existed around the world. But the Adventist church was weak to deal with those problems, or to find proper solutions for those who faced threats from autocratic regimes. This constituted a real challenge to the denomination.