|Unregistered churches, such as this one in
Shenzhen, Guangdong, are often shut down
on false charges of failing to comply with
fire safety. The official seal across the door
forbids all entry. (Photo: ChinaAid)
(Lanzhou, Gansu—March 31, 2018) Authorities closed four churches in China’s north-central Gansu province recently, saying they needed to register with the government and accusing them of violating laws.
Among them, Enyu Church, received a notice from the local religious affairs and public security bureaus in Lanzhou in February, ordering them to immediately close the church. The government charged them with organizing religious activities without registering with the government and demanded that they cancel all services.
In response, the church members negotiated with the officers, but in early March, the two bureaus joined forces with a neighborhood governmental committee and raided the church and ordered it to shut down immediately. They told the leaders that they had violated the Religious Affairs Regulations and the Fire Safety Regulations by continuing to meet without government permission. The church followed the government’s orders, and the building is now empty.
According to one of the church’s attendees, fire safety was given as the reason to shut down the church. “Before we shut down the church, officers from the religious affairs and national security bureaus visited several times, telling us that our fire facilities were incomplete and that there were potential fire hazards. They were just finding excuses to close the church.”
In addition, three other churches in Lanzhou were likewise shut down within a month of each other. Some of the affected Christians are now gathering at private residences. One of the church members said, “The government asked us to attend a Three-Self church, but we want to remain in our house church.”
ChinaAid exposes abuses, such as those experienced by church members in Lanzhou, in order to stand in solidarity with persecuted Christians and promote religious freedom, human rights, and rule of law.