|Huang Xiaoning, pastor of Bible Reformed
Church in Guangzhou, poses with his
family in this undated photo.
(Guangzhou, Guangdong—June 25, 2018) Local authorities broke into a Bible Reformed Church gathering in Guangzhou, Guangdong, on June 10, taking Pastor Huang Xiaoning and several other parishioners into custody. On Wednesday, the church received an administrative punishment notice from the local ethnic and religious affairs bureau, indicating that it must pay a hefty fine.
According to Huang, “20-30 government officials broke in (to Bible Reformed Church) while I was delivering my sermon and asked us to stop gathering. They also ordered us to submit our ID cards.” Huang, along with a Christian named Wang Chuanjun and two other church members, were taken to the sub-district office and interrogated them for hours.
“Today (June 20), the church received punishment notices from the municipal religious affairs bureau, the district religious affairs bureau, and the sub-district office,” Huang continued. The notice demanded that the church pay a 50,000 yuan ($7,685.45 USD) fine for holding religious activities. Authorities alleged the activities violated Article 41 of the Regulations on Religious Affairs. According to China’s religious stipulations, all buildings used for religious purposes must be registered with the state and subjected to state censorship in order to be considered legitimate religious venues. Apart from these, no venues may hold religious activities, Article 41 states.
However, the Chinese Constitution also states that Chinese citizens have religious freedom, which Huang says the Regulations on Religious Affairs suppress, even though the regulations should be subject to the constitution. As a result, he said that the church will take legal action “in order to become witnesses on God’s behalf.” He has already commissioned a lawyer and will apply for administrative review, demanding a court hearing.
“I’ve been a pastor for nearly 20 years,” Huang said. “I don’t (own) a car or a house. I don’t owe anything. Awhile ago (people) asked me, ‘Pastor Huang, aren’t you afraid of being fined?’ I answered, ‘No, I don’t have any money for them to confiscate.’ They also asked, “Aren’t you afraid of being imprisoned?’ I said that I never feared imprisonment, since I never even feared death.”
For the past eight years, local police have pressured Bible Reformed Church to join the network of officially-approved churches, known as Three-Self Churches, but the church refused.
“They used both diplomatic and violent measures,” Huang told ChinaAid, but he did not elaborate further.
ChinaAid exposes abuses, such as those suffered by the members of Bible Reformed Church, in order to stand in solidarity with persecuted Christians and promote religious freedom, human rights, and rule of law.