China takes aim at churches with new plans to force registration

The seal on the door of a banned house
church in Guangzhou, Guangdong.
(Photo: ChinaAid stock)


(Midland, Texas—Sept. 22, 2017) An organization affiliated with the Chinese Communist Party published a report on Sept. 8 detailing how the government planned suppress and control churches.

The Association of Christian Students, an institution sympathetic to the Chinese government, issued a report describing how officials plan to carry out the government’s religious policies, which routinely target churches. In order to tighten its grip on churches, the government plans to employ a specialized management program that will take aim at private religious sites, “illegal” religious organizations, and preachers who have not been ordained by the state. According to the report, the program will seek to align Christians with the Communist Party’s agenda by registering churches who agree with the Three-Self Patriotic Movement, one of China’s two state-run Christian institutions, forcibly combining smaller house churches with churches that are registered, and banning those that refuse to register. Specifically, they will shut down those that the public security and religious affairs bureaus have labeled as “illegal religious organizations, organizations influenced or controlled by foreign powers intending to infiltrate [the country], or [religious] gathering places that broke the laws or are under the control of cults.”

The extent of the punishment for such churches will depend on the extent of the so-called “violations.”

In order to carry out this missive, the government will work with state-run religious organizations to run indoctrinating speaking tours and encourage Christians to resist supposed “heresy” as well as “illegal” religious institutions. Different government units will also work together, dividing the responsibilities between themselves.

The Chinese Constitution grants China’s citizens religious freedom, but, in practice, the government insists on monitoring and censoring churches because they fear that foreign nations are using Christianity and other non-Chinese belief systems to infiltrate the country. Subsequently, churches must register with the government and subject themselves to official scrutiny in order to be considered legal. Over the past few years, however, China has intensified its crackdowns on both registered and unregistered churches, and a new set of revisions to the Regulations on Religious Affairs set to go into effect in February provides even narrower restrictions, sanctioning authoritarian persecution.

Additionally, China also often wrongly accuses Christians as belonging to religious offshoots that they have labeled as “evil cults” and serially persecute.

ChinaAid exposes abuses enacted against Chinese Christians in order to stand in solidarity with them and promote religious freedom, human rights, and rule of law.

ChinaAid Media Team
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