By Xiwang, reporter for Radio Free Asia
English Translation by ChinaAid | PDF
October 27, 2010
October 25, 2010
Recently in Taizhou, Zhejiang province, members of an independent house church were harassed and threatened by authorities in yet another incident. Over 50 people from TSPM churches, the Bureau of Religion, and other agencies broke into the residence of house church members on Sunday. They searched the house and threatened them that they must not engage in illegal gatherings at home. Following is an interview report by Xiwang, reporter from Radio Free Asia.
According to ChinaAid, a US-based organization devoted to defending the rights of Christians in China, about 50 people led by Zhou Lingcai, president of Jiaojiang District TSPM of Taizhou Municipality in Zhejiang, broke into the apartment of Shao Yajun and Song Tingting last Sunday morning. These people were from TSPM churches, Bureau of Religion, Jiaojiang District Domestic Security Protection Squad, the local police station, and other agencies and departments.
Some of them were teachers from Taizhou Institute. Many of them were not in uniform, and only the officials from the Bureau of Religion showed identification. They lectured and threatened the two young women who were preparing lunch and accused them of engaging in illegal gatherings at home and threatened to take them away.
Without showing search warrants, they took out camcorders and cameras and took videos and photos of the bedroom, and searched the house. They also poked about and burrowed around their personal belongings and letters, and copied all the contact information of the two women’s schoolmates and friends.
According to the report, these government representatives were not only very vicious to these two house church members; they also attempted to forcefully remove the cross that was attached to the door. They also intended confiscate the personal computer of Shao Yajun. It was only after these two women vehemently resisted that the agents failed to take the computer.
Radio Free Asia interviewed Zhou Lingcai, president of TSPM of Taizhou Municipality of Zhejiang province. According to him, they invaded the residence of these two young women to advise them not to engage in gatherings at home, and that they should go to legal churches for prayers and gatherings.
Zhou said, “We didn’t go there to search the house. We only wanted to advise the two women to go and gather at venues designed for religious gatherings. In fact, our young people in China enjoy freedom. We not only support them, we also want to protect them. But mainly, we want to advise them to do their Sunday service in designated churches. It is not good for them to gather at home. Besides this, some people who do not abide by rules and regulations also come to deliver sermons and we want to protect our believers from falling victim to their scams.”
In regards to how many people went to the residence of the two women, Zhou Lingcai admitted there were many people:
“People from many agencies went there — about 40 to 50 in total. They represented the Bureau of Civil Affairs, Public Security Bureau, and the Bureau of Education, along with the Municipal Bureau of Religion, Municipal Public Security Bureau and many other government agencies. I do not remember them all.”
Pastor Bob Fu, president of ChinaAid, said similar incidents have happened recently in various parts of China:
“We see that recently, the overall status and environment for freedom of religion in China is worsening. This incident in Taizhou, Zhejiang is a case in point. Since September, things like this have happened not only in Zhejiang, but also in other provinces. In Henan, Anhui, Shandong, Xinjiang, and Inner Mongolia, members of house churches are being detained or even sentenced to two or three years of re-education through labor.
“Some of them are being placed under house arrest. In Beijing, 230 believers and leaders of house churches throughout China who were invited to attend the Third Lausanne Congress in South Africa were approached by authorities; in some cases, they were placed under house arrest. These happenings in recent weeks indeed show religious persecution is rapidly worsening.”
The Chinese government allows believers to conduct Sunday services in government-sanctioned TSPM churches, but prohibits the existence of underground house churches. In China, all churches must be registered with the state and are constantly under surveillance.
However, tens of millions of independent Chinese Christians are worshipping in unregistered churches.
The above has been an interview report by Xiwang, reporter from Radio Free Asia.