Zhongfu Tonxin Church members gather outside
the sealed doors for service.
(Photo: China Aid)
By Ava Collins
(Shantou, Guangdong—Sept. 1, 2015) More than 100 Christians in Guangdong gathered outside their sealed church building despite threats from authorities. Church leaders said they plan to take the issue to court if the church is not reopened.
Zhongfu Tonxin Church in Shantou, Guangdong, was sealed by the Chengdai District Religious Affairs Bureau on Aug. 18. The church has since held two services, with church members standing or sitting outside.
A church member, surnamed Zhao, explained that the first service ended early, as the church members were warned in advance that officials were en route. The next day, another official came to disperse a second service. Zhao said he told this officer, “You were wrong to seal our door, and we’re going to sue.”
The church’s leader, Guo, confirmed on Aug. 23 that the church is planning to take legal action against the religious affairs bureau. “When my church members saw the door sealed, they said we needed to dispute this. If the religious affairs bureau will not open the door when I speak with them tomorrow, we will sue.”
Guo said that religious affairs bureau personnel threatened to close down all the church’s secret meeting places because the church had contacted overseas media. The official told her she would “pay the legal consequence for contacting foreigners.”
Guo said she told the officer that the religious affair bureau’s seal on the church was unlawful. “Only a court is allowed to seal our door. It was illegal for you to close the building. You’ve broken the law even though you are supposed to know it well.”
As of Aug. 23, no legal written documentation of the sealing had been delivered to the church.