|Huanan Church, a house church in Jingmen, Hubei,
represents a typical meeting for Christians in
unregistered churches in China.
(Nanjing, Jiangsu—Aug. 14, 2017) A religious affairs bureau located in China’s coastal Jiangsu province held a conference dedicated to the investigation and management of religious affairs on Aug. 1. Such planning events usually involve coordinating persecution attacks against house churches in the area.
According to the conference, held by the directors of ethnic and religious affairs bureaus from 11 districts, the proceedings pressed for a detailed investigation of all regions. Proposed methods of investigation included “managing, controlling, directing and adjusting, protecting the legal, stopping the illegal, containing the extreme, blocking infiltrations, striking at the crimes, managing through a dialectical point of view, and implementing policies comprehensively.”
Plans also included an increase in religious policy training for Communist Party leaders and “basic-level” units regarding the “handling of religious problems” as an “essential part of the Party committee agenda.”
Chinese law requires all religious activity to be registered beneath five official state religions. State-run churches are subject to heavy censorship and surveillance, ensuring that their government-employed pastors preach messages in line with Communist doctrine and supportive of the current regime.
The official state-run Protestant Church, known as the Three-Self Patriotic Movement or Three-Self Church, promotes a doctrine of “self-governance, self-support, and self-propagation,” a set of values that renounce and forbid foreign influence and non-Chinese forms of Christianity.
Christian churches which operate outside of the Three-Self Church in attempts to avoid censorship and propaganda are known as underground churches or house churches. Religious affairs bureaus, such as those whose director met in Jiangsu are tasked with eradicating house churches, either by forcing them to register as Three-Self churches or arresting pastors and members.
Any religious activity outside of the state system can be considered a cult and is punishable by law in China. As such, a major concern of these proceedings was “managing … and renovating private Christian gathering points in the villages.
The conference’s message also urges directors to “strive to strike and ban illegal Christian activities in order to prevent infiltration from heretical and cult organizations or foreign powers. Christian venues should be planned and supervised. All private gathering points are strictly forbidden.”
As its final resolution, the conference reminded directors that their goal was to spread Communist Party doctrine among religious Chinese citizens leading to a “religious population with socialist core values, gathering the religious population around the Party and the government in order to further strengthen the ruling foundation of the Party.”
The Jiangsu conference, with its focus on shutting down and clearing out unregistered churches indicates an approaching crackdown on house churches in the affected areas. A tightening of government control on religion leads to raids, arrests, and false charges for Christians in cases such as these.
ChinaAid stands in solidarity with the underground churches of China, denouncing the Communist agenda to use churches and faith to distribute propaganda and consolidate government power.
ChinaAid Media Team
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