Sichuan authorities threaten to cut off government aid to impoverished Christian families

China Aid Association

(Langzhong, Sichuan—July 31, 2014) Authorities in China’s southwestern Sichuan province are threatening to cut off government aid to approximately 80 Christian families for believing in a “cult” and placed a house church Christian under a 15-day administrative detention for sharing the Gospel in the streets on July 22.

Langzhong House Church pastor Li Ming told China Aid that for since the beginning of the year, local officials have been threatening to withhold government subsidies from approximately 80 Christian family living in poverty.

“In China, some households under the poverty line enjoy a government subsidy, which is 50 yuan (US $8.10) a month,” Li said. “The leaders in the [Baoma] Township Government said the subsidy of all house church Christians will be canceled. The leaders spread the word that they had a preliminary list of 80 Christian households. This is a great harm to these Christians…because this is a poor area.”

“In the first half of the year, [a leader] went to the countryside to threaten [worshippers] that if we still believe in Jesus and ‘the cult,’ they will cancel our payments. For some Christians, their subsidy has already been canceled. For others, the authorities are still threatening them,” Li said.

When China Aid contacted the Baoma Township Government, the official deflected questions, told us that we “dialed a wrong number,” and eventually hung up. The man said that questions about the cancelation of subsidies should be directed to the “Section for Ethic and Religious Affairs.”

When asked if Christians were regarded as cult members, he said that under “normal circumstances,” Christians are not regarded as such. “By normal circumstances, I mean they preach at an official site or in an official church provided by the Religious Affairs Bureau. Only preaching at these placed can be regarded as normal.”

“It’s hard to say if they gather in their homes,” he said when asked if believers who gather in houses are regarded as cult members.

Recently, church member Cao Xuemei was “taken away by police on July 22 while distributing Gospel flyers,” the church’s pastor, Li Ming, said.

“I’m still in Chongqing [attending to other business], so I don’t know the specifics of the case,” Li said.

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