China Aid Association
In a statement letter defending the members’ legal right to gather members quoted the “White Paper on the Progress of Human Rights Cause in China,”, which states:
“All the normal activities held in religious sites and in their own residences of the religious believers according to religious custom shall be managed by the religious organizations and believers themselves and they are protected by the law.” The Beijing House Church gathering in no way violated the laws of the State nor Government policies. The officials who disrupted the meetings knew their actions were contrary to constitutional law and therefore failed to represent legal documentation during the search and seizure of church property. China Aid Association publishes worldwide today “Beijing Gospel Church’s Public Letter on its Sunday Meeting being Disrupted.” The whole text is as follows. We hope people from all circles of life show concerns on this. On the morning of May 25 Beijing Time, agencies in charge of religious affairs at Homeland Security Defense Brigade in Beijing Municipality respectively raided at least eight gathering locations of Beijing Urban Gospel House Church. Pastor Gao Zhen was summoned to a local police station and was not released from there until 6 p.m. Beijing Gospel House Church is one of the largest house churches in Beijing and has a membership of nearly a thousand people. On the ground that the church’s activities were an “illegal gathering,” the Beijing police and officials in charge of religious affairs suddenly raided this house church and ordered them to stop gathering.
Beijing Gospel Church’s Public Letter on its Sunday Meeting being Disrupted.
At about 9:30 a.m. on May 25, 2008, our house church gathering sites at Longhuayuan Residential Complex, Tiantongyuan Residential Complex, Century Jiayuan Residential Complex, Yangqiao Residential Complex, Ganjiakou Residential Complex, Zhongguancun Residential Complex and other gathering sites were broken into by government officers. They come from four government agencies of Municipal Bureau of Religion, Office of Ethnic Religious Affairs of various districts, Homeland Security Defense Brigade of Municipal and District branches of Public Security Bureau, local police stations and Culture Committees. Among the people who raided the gatherings were Section Chief Zhao, Director Jia, Commissioner Ma, Ye Ping, Yao Xiaojing, Bai Tao and others. About 20-30 people went to each site. Among them, many people refused to show their work identification. They broke into citizens’ private residences by force and ordered the Christians who were gathering there to stop their meeting. People at some of these locations were holding special prayer meetings for the earthquake victims. Without presenting any valid law enforcement documents or search warrants, the law enforcement officers took videos of the people by force and searched the rooms. They took away some books and materials in the rooms and made copies of privacy materials from personal computers. During this process, some of the government employees were rude in their behavior and abusive in their language. They even made personal attacks on some Christians and tried scare them. The government employees who went to Longhuayuan even overturned the platform and resorted to violence, causing minor injuries in some of our brothers and sisters. At about 10 a.m., Pastor Gao was taken by force to Room 206 at Longguan Township Government where his personal freedom was restricted until 5 p.m. Given such extreme measures, our Sunday gatherings had to stop. We the brothers and sisters feel our freedom of belief has been violated and our personal freedom was restricted. However, in order not to aggravate tensions and show our respect for the government employees, we stayed calm and exercised self-control and we complied with their demands to register our identifications, phone numbers and other information. The whole process of this disruption lasted until noon (it varied slightly at different locations). In facing the unjust conduct of the government, brothers and sisters demonstrated their courage and calm that they get from God which is a testimony of God’s love. We shook hands with the people who hurt us and told them “Jesus loves you.” By depending on the Lord, we experienced joy, peace and triumph.II. Ours was not an illegal gathering for the following reasons:
1. Legal basis: it is stipulated in Article 36 of the Chinese Constitution: “Citizens of the People’s Republic of China enjoy freedom of religious belief.” On October 5, 1998, the Chinese government ratified the “International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights” passed in 1966 in a UN general assembly. It is stipulated in Article 18 of this covenant that: “1. Everyone shall have the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion. This right shall include freedom to have or to adopt a religion or belief of his choice, and freedom, either individually or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in worship, observance, practice and teaching.” Our gathering on that day was to practice our freedom of belief and we did not have any conduct that endangered the state, the society or any individual. 2. It is groundless for the government employees to claim that we violated Article 12, Chapter 3 of “Regulations on Religious Affairs.” (Article 12: Collective religious activities of religious citizens shall, in general, be held at registered sites for religious activities). This is in violation of the open policies of the Chinese government. In May 2004, in its “White Paper on the Progress of Human Rights Cause in China,” the State Council explicitly pointed out: “All the normal activities held in religious sites and in their own residences of the religious believers according to religious custom shall be managed by the religious organizations and believers themselves and they are protected by the law.” Ye Xiaowen, the current director of State Administration for Religious Affairs, said on Page 13 of his book “Tell the American People the Truth about the Religion in China: “The prayer, Bible study and other religious activities held by Christians according to religious custom in their own residences and mainly attended by their relatives are generally referred to as house gathering. The government does not require such house gatherings to register and certainly would not interfere with or restrict their normal religious activities.”
3. On Page 13 of the book “Interpretation on Regulations on Religious Affairs” (Published by Religious Culture Publishing House in March 2005), it is written: “In our country, some people believe in this or that religion. This is an ideological question that exists objectively in the society and we must not by any means solve this question by taking compulsory measures. It is just because our Party realizes the popularity of religion among the people that we steadfastly pursue the policy of freedom of religion and respect and protect the religious freedom of the citizens€¦, Though there were errors in our past policies, the lessons we have learned from that are more indelible.”4. Conclusion: Our gatherings must have brought joy to God and are completely in line with the laws and policies of the state. Their conduct is in conflict with the consistent policies of the Party and the law of the state. It is because of this reason that they failed to show any written and valid legal documents. We will continue to exercise the rights endowed to us by the law and we reserve and safeguard the legal rights endowed to us by the law.III: The belief of the church.
1. The church was bought by Jesus Christ with his own precious blood. He is the head and king of the church. We believe that Jesus Christ is the king of kings and the lord of lords. He must protect His church, His sons and daughters. He also once promised that people should help each other in everything and those who love God will benefit. We believe that through all this, the name of the Lord shall be glorified and the intention of God shall be realized. Let us at this moment work whole-heartedly and depend on Him alone.2. Our life belongs to Jesus. Under any circumstances, we will do our best to love Him and worship Him. We are willing to follow Jesus Christ on His way to the cross. We thank the Lord for sharing the sufferings with Him.3. We believe this is a spiritual war. We by no means want to confront the government or do battles with any government employees. We want to depend on the Lord and His omnipotence and be strong people. We want to wear the full uniform endowed by God to resist the tricks of Satan (spread lies, sow discords, make threats and sue our conscience). We want to listen to the voice of the Lord and avoid being utilized and seduced by Satan. God is our only help and by depending on Him in a humble way, we will win this beautiful battle.4. Christians must submit themselves to the rulers and in our life we should abide by various laws of the state and be a citizen that glorifies God and benefits humanity. However, on things that violate our belief and personal conscience, we ought to obey God rather than men. (Acts 5: 29)
IV: God’s promise:
1. Jesus said: “€¦and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not
prevail against it.” (Matthew 16:18)
2. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us. (Romans 8:35-37)
V. Our suggestions:
1. As directed by the Bible, we will not stop gathering. We recognize the authority endowed by God to the government and we are willing to submit ourselves and cooperate with the relevant authorities within the confines of the law, but we will insist on our due rights of freedom of worship.
2. As for the government employees, we will emulate Christ and love them and pray for them. We the brothers and sisters should be gentle and humble toward each other, love each other, be neither overbearing nor servile, do things with good reasons and restraint so that we can give a beautiful testimony for God.3. Christians must resolutely safeguard the legitimate rights of themselves and other people. As for every conduct of the government employees, you have the right to request them to show their identifications, to tell you the detailed legal basis and your rights. As citizens of the country, we have obligations to supervise the government employees to make sure they observe the disciplines and abide by the law. We will never tolerate anybody’s violation of law or conduct beyond the power authorized to them. We have the right to refuse answering questions, especially those questions that induce us, questions full of malice or questions that involve our own or other people’s privacy, so that we are not harmed. The Lord teaches us to be docile but also dexterous.4. As citizens, registered believers have the right to refuse the phone calls or request for appointments from relevant agencies unless the agencies present legally binding documents.5. We also suggest that we brothers and sisters bravely testify for our own belief and be ready to pay a price. We should also show care and concern for our weak brothers and sisters. We should keep watch on each other, pray for each other and carry the burden for each other.VI. Our prayers:
1. First of all, we present here gratitude and praise for God and thank Him for letting this hardship befall on us so that He can share this tribulation with us.2. Pray for our country and beg God to bless our country and bestow it a way for people to repent and pray to His grace to let people redeem their sins so that our country and its people can have the true peacefulness.
3. Pray for the leaders and every government employee. We pray to God to give them a heart of justice and awe so that they can do their duties and govern this country according to law.4. Pray for every brother and sister among us and pray to God to let us still have joy, hope and confidence while being tested in fire. We pray to God to give us a heart to depend on Him so that fear and worries are not part of us and to let us experience the relief and freedom of the Lord. We pray to God to take away the hatred and complaints in us so that we have the strength to love those who have done harm to us.5. We pray to God to protect those brothers and sisters who are suffering because of their belief. They may be suffering interference and pressure. We pray to God to strengthen their hearts and bestow wisdom to them in dealing with these interference and pressure.But the God of all grace, who hath called us unto his eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after that ye have suffered a while, make you perfect, stabilize, strengthen, settle you. (1 Peter 5: 10)
Beijing Gospel ChurchMay 27, 2008
First release, May 28, 2008, China Aid Association.
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Rachel Ritchie, English Media Director
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