By CK, reporter for Radio Free Asia
English Translation by ChinaAid
November 20, 2010
In China, while house churches not approved by the government are certainly persecuted, even legally registered churches cannot operate normally if they stray outside the control of the authorities.
A Christian from China recently told this reporter about the difficulties his church has experienced in the past year or so. The following is a report from San Francisco by CK, special reporter from Radio Free Asia.
November 18, 2010
Photo: Zheng Leguo talks about the difficulties facing churches in China (Courtesy of reporter CK)
Zheng Leguo is a member of the Council of Baixiang Christian Church in Leqing City, Zhejiang province. Baixiang Christian Church is officially registered with the local government, and the Council of leaders was chosen by the church’s 700-plus congregation in a one-person-one-vote election.
This independent election held by the church is the crux of the problem, because the election did not result in the candidates designated by the local Religious Affairs Bureau winning any leading positions in the Council. Consequently, Baixiang Church has experienced one disaster after another in the year-plus since the election, constantly under the threat of violent attacks and unable to hold a single normal and peaceful Sunday service.
Zheng recounted the conflict one Sunday between church members and troublemakers goaded by the Religious Affairs Bureau and the Public Security Bureau.
“When we were preaching the sermon, they cranked up the volume of their audio system, making it impossible for us to deliver the sermon. Four of them surrounded my brother-in-law who knows how to fix audio systems and beat him up. After that, they put the blame on my brother-in-law and claimed that he had injured them. As a result, my brother-in-law was sentenced to eight months in prison.”
Zheng said the church has all along been trying to reason with the government and has been trying to find a resolution through proper legal channels.
“We have made many appeals. Whenever a lawyer is interested in accepting our case and starts making inquiries, the Public Security Bureau always says that this is a political issue. They regard our religious affairs as a political problem. Therefore, no local lawyers dares to accept our case.”
Last year, Zheng was interviewed by a foreign journalist and talked the problems his church has experienced. He said: “For instance, when we do interviews with you, it puts us under a great deal of psychological pressure.
If a church in China has contacts with the foreign media, it might be seen as the infiltration of some overseas force interfering with the internal church affairs of China. Actually, (the authorities) should recognize the trend of globalization in this age of globalization. Also, in our faith, we talk about the fellowship of the saints, so our contacts with churches both in China and abroad is both reasonable and normal.”
According to Zheng, the disasters befalling Baixiang Church are still continuing. He calls on the Chinese government to respect the democratic choice of the congregation, loosen its strict control over the church and allow it to function normally again.
He said, “I don’t think the church should be regarded as a hostile force. Such a view affects the government’s relationship with religion and affects the overall relationship between church and state.”
This is a report by CK, special reporter for Radio Free Asia.
Copyright (c) 1998-2010 Radio Free Asia. All rights reserved.