(Beijing—May 14, 2018) Two house churches in Beijing reported that authorities in the past week have investigated churches and pressured landlords to cancel the leases on houses of worship.
One of the churches chose to remain anonymous, though a member of this church named Yin said that on Sunday, May 6, the leader of the national security brigade of the Xicheng District Public Security Bureau brought a team of several dozen officers to the church’s service. Though the service was not disrupted, the officials took pictures and investigated the proceedings. On May 8, the national security brigade pressured the church’s landlord to revoke their lease.
“The police called us today,” Yin said, “and forbade us from organizing religious activities in any form. In the morning, the government forced the [Christian] brother who rented the building to sign a letter guaranteeing that he would not participate in any religious activities. We haven’t met with any representatives from the religious affairs bureau yet, and we don’t know how to handle all of this.”
Another church member said that the local police station said they would leave the church alone if the church met outside of their jurisdiction, but the church members fear that moving to a different district would simply incur persecution from authorities in the new area.
Xu Yonghai, an elder from Holy Love Fellowship spoke to ChinaAid’s reporter on May 9, explaining how his church had also experienced increased pressure from police. “In the past few days, our freedom of religion has been further violated. Our normal activities were disrupted. For instance, we gathered for a Bible study on Friday, April 20. On April 19, the police showed up at my house and asked me: ‘Who is going to attend the gathering tomorrow? Will there be reporters?’ A few reporters visit our church frequently and attend the Bible study sessions. Two reporters had planned to come on April 20.”
After this interview with the police, the two reporters arrived at Xu’s building and found police and officials from the neighborhood committee. Because of all the authorities, one of the reporters called and said that he wouldn’t go upstairs. Xu invited him to return on another Friday instead.
“We have a long way to go before obtaining true freedom of religion,” Xu said. “Right now, we can only gather at our own houses. It’s becoming harder and harder for us to rent buildings and organize larger events. Not to mention, the government keeps pressuring landlords who rented to churches. The space of freedom is narrowing.”
Xu continued, saying that Holy Love Fellowship had endured persecution from authorities in the past, and they would continue to persist. In January 2014, authorities detained 13 members of the church for “gathering illegally” and were bailed out a month later. Another seven members were detained for “using evil cults to disrupt law enforcement,” as well.
ChinaAid reports on human rights abuses, such as the persecution against house churches in Beijing, in order to promote religious freedom, human rights, and rule of law and combat the oppression of the Chinese Communist Party.
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