House churches across China experience opposition focused on Christmas activities

China Aid Association

(Hong Kong—Dec. 21, 2013) As Christmas approaches, house churches in various parts of China are reporting acts of persecution, ranging from warnings to detainments, from their local governments.

So far, ChinaAid has received reports of persecution in six provinces and in Beijing. In each case, believers have appealed for international concern and acknowledgement of their current situations. Following is a report by one of ChinaAid’s special reporters embedded in Hong Kong.

In a recent interview, Pastor Zhang Mingxuan, president of the China House Church Alliance, told the reporter that the director of the State Administration for Religious Affairs said they would adopt a policy of opening-up in religious affairs. Despite this statement, Zhang said, house churches suffer further suppression in December.

“There are cases of persecution at various levels of house churches in various places of China such as the church in Neihung [county, in central China’s] Henan province. The authorities told them to stop gathering and said theirs is an illegal assembly. Besides, some brothers and sisters in Zizhou county in [inland China’s] Shaanxi province have been arrested. Some brothers and sisters who were preaching the Gospel in Nanjing, [the provincial capital of coastal Jiangsu province,] were warned by the police, and their belongings were seized. Believers in some places dare to talk about it, but others don’t dare to talk about it,” Zhang said.

Zhang also reported that when he and his wife were preaching the Gospel in Beijing on Sunday, the Beijing police accosted them. “As soon as I arrived in Beijing, I was restricted by them and I couldn’t leave the house. They also wouldn’t process my passport. I will sue them,” Zhang said.

On Sunday, the house church in the town of Eran, Neihung county, Henan province received a joint warning from several government departments. “On last Sunday, people from five departments of the government came to us; they were village cadres, officers from the local police station, Domestic Security Protection Squad agents and people from the judicial department. There were altogether several dozen people,” Ms. Wei, a church member, who only gave her surname. The authorities told the church members that the assembly was illegal.

Wei said the church, which began over 30 years ago in two rooms of her home, has increased over the years to the point that her entire residence is now used to meet. Wei said that there were 80 to 90 people gathered in her home last Sunday.

Wei confirmed that the church group was warned that if they met again, there would be consequences. “They will arrest us,” she said.

The Guangfu House Church in Guangzhou, the provincial capital of southern China’s Guangdong province also received warnings from authorities earlier this month. Officials told the congregation that the gathering was illegal, a church member confirmed.

“In the past week or two, the police came here three or four times. They always came to disrupt us. Ours is not a big gathering of several hundred people,” Mark, the church’s pastor said. “They asked me whether our organization has filed its information and whether we have a license. They also asked me to file for the Christmas activities [we have planned]. I said we won’t come here for Christmas, and we will go somewhere else.”

On Nov. 15 (corrected Jan. 2), approximately 40 believers from Zhenzizhou Church in Zizhou county in inland Shaanxi province, including Feng Tiandong, Jiang Mao and Zhang Baolin, went to the local Laojundian Police Station to ask police why they planned to arrest Feng.

In early December (corrected Jan. 2), police dispatched more than 10 officers to detain Feng, Jiang, Zhang Baolin and one other believer. Officers also refused to allow attorneys, hired by the detainees’ families, to meet with their clients.

“The situation is disconcerting,” the church’s pastor, speaking on the condition of anonymity, told the reporter. He said that authorities have concluded that the believers “assaulted the state agents,” and they put word out that they will arrest more people.

“It is difficult to get into contact with the believers [who are detained]. A brother of ours who went there with the lawyer is now afraid and dares not go there,” the pastor said. Jiang and Zhang’s wives are waiting for legal assistance for the two men, and family members have been unable to get items into the detention center to give to the detainees, the pastor said.

“We now want people to appeal for help…and we want a big delegation of lawyers to be here. Otherwise, the entire church will be dispersed by [authorities], and all the members will be arrested,” the pastor said.

The pastor said the head of the village told him “the government will certainly attack.” The village leader also told the pastor that the government suspects that the church engages in “secret operations in the mountains, and whether you want to take power in China.”

“The Public Security agencies and the court work in collusion with each other and don’t do things according the law of the state. This will not only fail to bring about the harmony for the state, it will cause conflicts instead. I think the international media should convey this idea to Xi Jinping, the leader of the state, so that [the government] can correctly treat the house churches in China,” the pastor concluded

Shandong and Sichuan
When a house church in Qinzhou in China’s coastal Shandong rented a hotel and planned a Christmas celebration for today, local Domestic Security Protection Squad agents and Religious Affairs Bureau agents successfully pressured the hotel to cancel the party. The church had already sent out more than 3,000 invitations.

Additionally, a house church in China’s southwestern Sichuan province held a Christmas gathering recently, and participants were dispersed when a police force used tear gas against them.

ChinaAid expresses its concern over this series of suppression against house churches in China. We call on the relevant authorities to respect the Constitution and stop their persecution. ChinaAid will continue to monitor the situation.

China Aid Contacts

Rachel Ritchie, English Media Director
Cell: (432) 553-1080 | Office: 1+ (888) 889-7757 | Other: (432) 689-6985
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