Chinese government hires church spies

Officials monitor a Chinese church.
(Photo: ChinaAid)


(Kaifeng, Henan—April 19, 2019) The Chinese government is hiring citizens to spy on churches and offering them stipends, according to Chinese Christians.

One church elder from Kaifeng, Henan, said officials in his area recruit one person from each village to spy on churches, providing them 300 yuan ($44.72 USD). In Kaifeng, impoverished households are eligible for a 60 yuan ($8.94 USD) monthly government stipend.

The elder also said the spies are supposed to report Christians who take children to church. In China, people under the age of 18 are barred from entering religious venues and may not be taught religions. This stipulation was reinforced by the revised edition of the country’s Regulations on Religious Affairs, which went into effect on Feb. 1, 2018. Last April, Henan’s provincial religious affairs department said the new regulations should be implemented, so they banned children from going to church and prohibited churches from organizing activities for minors.

However, the Chinese Constitution’s Article 36 states, “Citizens of the People’s Republic of China enjoy freedom of religious belief.”

Xu, a pastor in Henan, said signs forbidding children from coming to church have been displayed on in many state-run churches.

“In doing this, the government wants to control the development of churches,” Xu said. “By now, the government has already demolished several thousand crosses. Now, they are not satisfied with small gains and are more and more savage. They have stipulated that [Christian] home gatherings should not exceed five people.”

Li, a Christian in Guangdong, argued that spying for the government is expanding across China. “Before, the Communist Party members fought against each other, and afterward, they also had informants to lurk online and report on netizens. A while ago, university teachers reported on their students, and now, they have been using these informant methods to also monitor churches.”

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