Henan increases pressure on house church gatherings

The tattered remains of Christian couplet
banners hang on a wall after authorities in
Guzhuangdian, Henan tore them down.
(Photo: ChinaAid)


(Nanyang, Henan—March 3, 2018) According to Christians in China’s central Henan province, the local public security bureaus and religious affairs bureaus have started targeting house church members with threats and fines since early February.

A new initiative in Nanyang, Henan, explicitly forbids any kind of religious gatherings in people’s homes. Anyone caught attending or hosting meetings outside of a registered religious venue will be subject to a fine of 30,000 yuan (U.S. $4,700). All Christians in the area are ordered to join an officially registered church.

China’s current religious policy dictates that only Buddhism, Taoism, Islam, Protestant Christianity, and Catholicism, which are officially recognized by the State, are legal for citizens to participate in, and they may only do so in churches, mosques, or temples operated by the government. The official Chinese Protestant church is known as the Three-Self Patriotic Movement, named for its principles of self-governance (no recognition of religious authorities from outside China), self-support (no financial ties to foreign organizations), and self-propagation (no influence from foreign missionaries).

Because most of these churches are instructed to teach loyalty to the Communist Party and the Chinese State and often teach propaganda over the actual tenets of these faiths, many faithful religious adherents choose to meet outside of the official religious system, in groups known as house churches or underground churches.

A local Christian, Ms. Wang, spoke to a reporter about the situation on Feb. 28. “Some of the house church members did not register with the Three-Self Churches, and government officials showed up and inspected their houses. Some brothers and sisters have been too scared to gather. Some split into smaller groups and continue to meet.”

Another anonymous Christian in Nanyang decorated their door with Christian-themed couplet banners for Chinese New Year only to have them torn off the door and ripped apart by authorities.

Communist Party officials are not allowed to believe in any religion, nor are children, students, or members of the Chinese military. In Shandong province, government agencies are investigating Communist Party members to ensure that they are not religious.

Most recently, organizations have implemented a collective punishment to isolate any Christians among Party members from one another. If any person refuses to sign a statement denouncing all religious beliefs, the branch will punish all employees and deduct between 20,000 to 30,000 yuan (U.S. $3,200 to $4,700) from everyone’s salary. Party members are also punished if it is discovered that they have volunteered at churches.

ChinaAid reports on instances of religious persecution such as the fines imposed against Christians in Shandong and Henan, in order to promote religious freedom and rule of law for all Chinese citizens.

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