China Aid Association
Anhui Christians reported that many house churches across Anhui were asked to register their information. China Aid spoke to two house churches in Chuzhou, Anhui, about the demand.
“The government came to [a church nearby] and asked them to book their information,” said Pastor Lu, who preaches at a house church in Mingguang, Chuzhou, of a 200-member house church in Fengyang County, Chuzhou. “Because their church was built only last year, the government demanded that they register the information. The government gave them a form. The leader of the church worries that after the information of the church in registered, the church may not survive.”
“The form asks for the name of the church, how many people come to the gatherings, the person in charge and the organizers,” Sister Xing, a member of the house church in Fengyang County, said. The form is called the “Registration Form of Basic Information of House Churches.”
“[We were told] the county government held a meeting and said our church is not the only gathering site required to register their information,” Xing said. “Now, our gathering site has been [registered]. In the future, if the government really affects our gatherings or doesn’t allow us to gather, we won’t agree.”
“There are also churches in Mingguang that are required to register,” Pastor Lu said. “On May 13, village leaders came to one of our house churches and demanded that they register their information. They asked how many people there are in the church. The worshippers said they don’t know and just ignored them. People from the bureau of religion have also come to me. I said ‘Ours is a house church and is not under the jurisdiction of the bureau of religion.’”
Some worshippers fear that this forced registration is an tactic for authorities to gain more control over house churches, with the final goal of eliminating all churches outside the government-sanctioned system.
“Trouble will come after the information of the persons in charge is registered,” one believer said. “In the future, they will call up the leaders whether there are issues of not. They will call you saying there’s a problem with your sanitation or fire safety measures. They will say you don’t pass the standards. In short, they will make it a headache for you and will require you to have an annual inspection and to pay fees.”
This persecution in Anhui comes months after the start of a demolition campaign in neighboring Zhejiang province, which despite authorities’ claims, seems to target buildings with religious purposes, and less than a month after the demolition of Sanjiang Church, a mega-church located in Wenzhou, Zhejiang (https://chinaaid.org/2014/03/three-self-churches-in-zhejiang-anhui.html, https://chinaaid.org/2014/04/zhejiang-christians-fear-sanjiang.html and https://chinaaid.org/2014/05/zhejiang-government-document-reveals.html).
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