Photo: Mayflower Church gathers together to worship in Thailand
(Washington, DC – February 27, 2023) Prominent politicians from the United States and Taiwan called for the resettlement of Shenzhen Reformed Holy Church, also known as the Mayflower Church.
“The United States must intervene”
On Friday, House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Michael McCaul published a letter sent to U.S. Department of State officials calling for U.S. intervention for the 64 Chinese Christians applying for UN refugee status in Thailand. In the letter addressed to Ambassador-at-Large at the Office of International Religious Freedom Rashad Hussain and Assistant Secretary of the Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration Julieta Valls Noyes, he affirms the credible refugee claims of the Mayflower Church and their ongoing persecution by the Chinese Communist Party,
Chairman McCaul wrote, “The United States must intervene to help ensure the safety of the group, protect them against refoulement and continued harassment by the PRC, and support their prompt assessment for protection as refugees, including consideration by the United States Refugee Admission Program.”
In response, the President of the Legislative Yuan of Taiwan You Si-Kun similarly spoke about the case on Facebook referencing his recent speech at the International Religious Freedom Summit in Washington, DC earlier this month. He wrote:
We call on our friends around the world to pay attention to the development of democracy and religious freedom in China. For centuries, the people of Taiwan have lived for freedom, and they will continue to fight for it now and in the future.
Therefore, in addition to echoing Chairman McCaul’s action, we also ask the [Taiwan] executive branch to care about helping these persecuted Chinese religious refugees and to show concrete actions to help them, because democracy, freedom, and human rights are common values in Taiwan and the world!
“It is encouraging to see politicians around the world take notice of the Mayflower case,” said Dr. Bob Fu, President and Founder of China Aid Association. “I urge democratic governments including the United States and Taiwan to heed the call from Chairman McCaul and President You in resettling the church members now rather than later due to the increasing threats of refoulement.”
Beginning in late 2019, 28 adults and 32 children from Shenzhen Holy Reformed left their homes in China and traveled to South Korea to seek asylum from the years of persecution endured at the hands of the CCP. After exhausting the immigration system in South Korea and receiving continuous threats from the Chinese government, the group moved to Thailand in the fall of 2022. They hoped to secure refugee status through the UNHCR. Now numbered at 64 total members, the asylum seekers remain at risk for refoulement or kidnapping as the Chinese government continually harasses the group and threatens their family members in China.
Advocates call the exiled Christians the “Mayflower Church” in reference to the English Pilgrims who set out in 1609 to find religious freedom after experiencing persecution.