|Churches in China are often closed for
not complying with government demands.
(Photo: China Aid Stock Photo)
By Brynne Lawrence
(Zunyi, Guizhou—July 27, 2015) Officials in China’s inland Guizhou province threatened to shut down a house church in Zunyi if it does not register as a government-supervised Three-Self Patriotic Movement (TSPM) church, despite the church previously obtaining legal approval to construct a building.
A church employee surnamed Mou told a reporter that, “Before we started construction on the church in 2013, the local land administration bureau issued the approval certificate for us to build the church. We paid the money, and the government allowed us to build it. After we finished building the church in July 2014, the government said we didn’t have the proper documentation and that they would shut down the house of God. We filed a lawsuit with the court, and they will hear the case within six months.”
Mou said the church has hired a lawyer to bring suit against the local religious affairs bureau and public security bureau.
China Aid’s reporter called the local religious affairs bureau to inquire about the situation. The responding official informed him that, “According to the law, it is illegal for a house church to construct a building” and that “…temples or religious buildings need to be approved by the provincial government, not through our county.”
The Tongzi County church fears the officials will execute their threat, since they already experience pressure for refusing to join the TSPM. Mou informed the reporter that officials claim the local TSPM church lacks members and encourages the church members to register with the government-sanctioned congregation.
This threat follows a series of Chinese house church persecutions occurring in different areas of the country. On Thursday morning, the government raided the recently persecuted Guangfu House Church in Guangzhou and confiscated all of its properties. The police summoned over 10 Christians and accused them of participating in illegal church services. At this time, the church is trying to defend its rights through legal procedures.