In China, incidents in which the church was officially dissolved or expelled from place to place occurred from time to time. After the 19th CPC National Congress, local governments tightened their control over the Christian church. Unofficially recognized house churches were even required to stop gatherings. The authorities have thoroughly investigated it, and it has dramatically outlawed the house church. A systematic nationwide Christian House Churches Ban has taken place there.
The house churches are independent of the official Chinese churches. The family-based churches have developed rapidly after the reform and opening up. The pace and scale of development have far surpassed the “Three-self Church.” It has become a very important organizational part of Christianity in China.
However, because the house churches have not been officially registered, they were regarded as illegal organizations by the authorities. On February 1, 2018, the State Council of China passed the newly revised Regulations on Religious Affairs. This ordinance confers greater power on the Chinese grass-roots government and can seal the house church at any time.
Since the 1990s, developments have resulted from the rapid urbanization experienced in Chinese society. While house churches originated as being entirely independent of one another, some house church networks have developed, with some headquartered in Henan and Zhejiang provinces. These networks have sent missionaries all over the country and have even started sending them abroad to neighboring states.
Some analysts pointed out that although there were positive factors in certain provisions of the regulations, they were unfavorable to the house churches and can pave the way for further suppression of house churches or meeting points in the future. The new religious affairs regulations give as many as 15 Chinese Communist Party agencies alone, or Joint measures are taken against house churches or meeting points.
Domestic and foreign scholars, religious circles, and news media have a close understanding of the house churches: There is no close relationship between the Chinese Christian Church (sometimes called the “Three-Self” Church, the Christian Church recognized by the Chinese government) and the Chinese mainland. Christian organizations can all be regarded as house churches.
Religious Persecutions Happen in Places
The China Aid News Network reported that dozens of believers in the Yanji Township church in Ezhou, Hubei Province had been engaged in family gatherings. The local government dispatched more than 20 unemployed people and beaten nearly 20 believers. A week later, the church was beaten again by believers for attending the party. The grass-roots governments in Xuzhou, Jiangsu and other places have conducted one-by-one mapping of local Christian house churches and registered family members of church leaders.
A believer who refused to be a resident of Mangdiaoqiao Township, Luancheng County, Shangqiu County disclosed to the reporter of this station that this Thursday, the township government had called for the meeting of the seven local church leaders and co-workers to dismantle the cross. Four of the crosses belonged to the Sanzi Church. The rest belong to the house church. He said: “We all came to a meeting, and the secretary of the township party committee, the religious section, the public security bureau, the village party branch secretary, the village chief, and the local cadres in the village attended the meeting. The town said, either it was demolished, or it came Demolition. The three self (cross) 4, the family’s three churches must be removed.”
Another priest living in Xinxiang told reporters that the city government had sent a working group to the villages and investigated each village family’s religious beliefs one by one: “The working group went down and registered each household, asking you to believe in Buddhism. , Taoism, and Catholicism, they have a unified form, to fill in the form of registration, investigation of population beliefs. Sanmenxia is also registered, but also a registered village in a village, the status of faith.”
A believer in Nanyang told reporters that at the time of their gathering, public security officers registered their ID cards, telephone numbers, and family members. “Nanyang Christianity is registered. At the last meeting, the Public Security Bureau came. The police station is also on the scene, not to party. Say you want to register a name, phone number.”
A Christian surnamed Xu disclosed on March 18th that a house church in Jinzhuang, a township of Wang Gang, Shangcheng County, Shangqiu County, was demolished in the afternoon. The believer, who did not wish to be named, stated that at two o’clock in the afternoon that day, the village security director brought people into the church and claimed that he would dismantle the church sign and the cross.
He also said that the police station called to open the signboard and the cross. He said: “Today the brothers and sisters stopped and they were not demolished. Therefore, they may not be split. But in the next few days, they may be demolished. Everyone dares to face up and resist the demolition. This is the first case in Henan. The religious villagers also resisted together and said that these Christians had not broken the law. Why do they have to leave?”
Also, government officials often come to the church to investigate, and often use “promoting fire safety knowledge, checking lighting, electrical wiring, extinguishing equipment, and safe passages” as a reason, and even shut down the church with “failure of fire safety facilities.”
In the pastoral area of Wenzhou, Zhejiang, local government officials, in addition to asking the church to stop the youths from entering the church or attending activities organized by the church, also ordered the primary and secondary schools to notify students and parents and not to participate in church activities such as Sunday School.
A local believer, Ms. Li, told reporters that local officials had asked the church to prohibit young people from participating in church activities. The school teacher also issued a notice to parents: “A lot of churches in Wenzhou don’t let Sunday school and children and minors are not allowed to participate in the church. There are many teachers in the school who also send messages to the group, asking the teacher to inform the children and not to participate in religious activities.”
According to Boxun News Network, Xihua County, Henan Province, has officially restricted the county’s Christian house churches. According to local believers, the house churches in 19 townships in the county have been sealed up, and thousands of Christians have been affected and cannot meet normally.
According to a report from the U.S. aid China News Network headquartered in Texas, the Christian surnamed Feng of Xiaoyao Town, Xihua County, Zhoukou City, Henan Province, disclosed that the Christian house churches in all towns and towns in the county were invariably subject to local religious officials. And the public security police station warned. According to the authorities, believers are illegal to engage in religious activities in places not approved by the government and are ordered to close down.
The government even sent instructions to higher schools to teach students not to believe in religion. They also reminded parents not to allow children to participate in religious activities or read religious books. In individual villages, the village party secretary took the lead in housekeeping and asked believers to go to the official three-self church to worship. It also tore off the religious gates and took off the cross hanging on the walls of the believers. Some village cadres saw the couplets in the courtyard of the believers or the house, immediately tore them off, and painted the cross on the wall with paint.
In addition to sealing up the house church, the authorities also restricted the people to Christmas, in order to further crack down on Christians. During the Christmas holidays, many Christian house churches and believers in Guangdong and Beijing had repeatedly been harassed and warned by the public security authorities and demanded that they stop religious meetings. Church reunions in places like Guangzhou and Jiangmen were requested by the landlord to relocate. Several parties in Beijing’s Shunyi District were forced to move away under the expulsion of the National Insurance Company. Also, the Tianjin University of Finance and Economics launched a thorough investigation of the Christian situation on campus one week ago.
The Shaping Church of Christian Shapingtang, Changyi Court, Shiling Street, Heshan, Guangdong Province, was installed with four surveillance cameras by local police on December 16. According to the church’s believers, four monitoring probes were placed at the gate, on the second floor of the main hall, on the stairs of the lobby, and on the third floor, at the entrance to the stairs.
A house church in Yuzhong County, Huludao City, Liaoning Province was seized by the authorities before Christmas. Zhejiang believers provided multiple videos to show that residents’ committees organized residents to march to the streets. They held five-star red flags and shouted slogans such as “boycotting Christmas,” “but festivals for foreigners” and “boycott foreign goods.” In a community, a Christmas tree more than 10 meters tall was knocked down by several men. Also, the church sings marches of Chinese Volunteers before the party. The Christmas dinner of a church in Wenzhou was disregarded because the believers were afraid to attend due to the authorities’ warning.
An unapologetic church evangelist in Guangdong said in an interview with Free Radio Asia on Thursday that recently the church has been harassed and believers have been driven away. He has been looking for another since the church was recently expelled by public security. At the meeting point, usually very low-key:
We are now out there, meeting temporarily where it is not so obvious, and there is a church on the other side of Jiangmen Jianghai, called Xinnan Li Church. It was also disbanded. (The believers) Some went to Sanzi. The official church) Some went to other churches.
In addition, the Tianjin University of Finance and Economics Party Committee United Front Work Department recently issued a so-called work notice called “Special Investigation on Christianity at Tianjin University of Finance and Economics” to the school, requesting that the survey include whether students, foreign students, foreign teachers, etc. from Hong Kong, Macau, Taiwan, etc. And the name, location of the meeting point, etc.
The notice also requires all grass-roots party committees to attach great importance to this investigation work, and ultimately reported to the Party Committee United Front Work Department in writing.
Xu Shizhen, a pastor of the Zion Church in Xianning City, Hubei Province, and believers held an event to sing hymns in the city’s public square on Wednesday. Summons. According to reports, in April 2012, Pastor Xu Shizhen’s Hongqiao Church raised hundreds of thousands of yuan to build a church and was snatched by local Sanzi Church and religious departments.
The church was given a box, the church door was replaced, and more than two hundred believers were expelled. Also, a Christian college founded by a house church in Guodian Township, Xiaqi County, Shangqiu City, Henan Province has recently been blocked by local public security and religious authorities. The report said that Chinese authorities continue to harass church churches in various parts of the country, including ordering them to stop gatherings or investigating the family situation of church leaders. They also asked the church to confess sources of funding and whether there is the overseas relationship.
It is reported that the situation of house churches in various parts of China is not the same and varies greatly. Some local house churches in Zhejiang and some parts of the southeastern coastal areas are influential and have a large number of people. In other places, house churches have still been severely suppressed, house churches have been banned, incidents of believers have been arrested, and sometimes even HongKong or foreign believers visiting house churches have been arrested. Therefore, some Chinese churches in HongKong or overseas for safety reasons keep the distance away from the house church.