China Aid Association
“Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a disgrace to any people.” (Proverbs 14:34)
Solemn Declaration Against the Abolishment of the Chinese House Church Alliance by the Ministry of Civil Affairs.
Christian legal professionals of China:
Fan Yafeng, Zheng Enchong, Zhang Jiankang, Zhang Xingshui, Li Baiguang, Li Subin, Wang Yi, Zhuang Daohe, Cao Zhi, Wang Guangliang, Wu Chenglian, Zhang Haitao, Jiang Tianyong, Xiao Ling, Peng Suhua.
On November 28, the Ministry of Civil Affairs of our country issued the “Decision Statement of Abolishment of the Chinese House Church Alliance” (Min Qu Zi ‘2008’ No. 1). The Ministry of Civil Affairs says, “It has been found out through investigations that the ‘Chinese House Church Alliance’ is not registered and it engages in its activities in the name of a social organization without authorization. Pursuant to Article 35 of the ‘Regulation on Registration and Administration of Social Organizations,’ this agency has hereby made the decision to abolish the Chinese House Church Alliance.”
This abolishment decree that intentionally never mentions the word “Christianity” was read at 7 a.m. on the same day to Pastor Zhang Mingxuan, head of the Chinese House Church Alliance, who was escorted to the site. The statement was read in the Military Administration Building of Nanyang Municipal Union of Henan Province by more than 20 officials from the Ministry of Civil Affairs, Henan Provincial Department of Public Security, Department of Civil Affairs and Bureau of Religion.
From then, the Chinese House Church Alliance that was established in 2005 and that has been engaging in Christian missionary work and charity activities for more than three years, was forced to shut down. The church property was confiscated and Pastor Zhang Mingxuan, the head of the organization, is once again facing the possibility of being held responsible for criminal liability or of being imposed a public security administrative penalty.
As we all know, since the gospel was introduced to China, Christianity has ever since been an important force in maintaining social peace and stability. The Chinese House Church Alliance has always abided by the principles of “serving the church, committed to the society, concerned about public interests and engaging in activities in accordance with law.”
Therefore, the establishment of the Chinese House Church Alliance is in conformity with the Bible and the law of God. It is also in conformity with the natural law originating from man’s conscience. In the meantime, it is also in conformity with Article 35 of the Constitution of our country which states: “Citizens of the People’s Republic of China enjoy freedom of speech, of the press, of assembly, of association, of procession and of demonstration.”
However, at a time when the 30th anniversary of the reform and the 60th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China are drawing near, the Ministry of Civil Affairs that is supposed to be responsible for “safeguarding freedom of association” as dictated by the Constitution chose the “Chinese House Church Alliance” to restrict and even deprive citizens’ two basic human rights of freedom of association and freedom of religion on the basis of “Regulation on Registration and Administration of Social Organizations,” an administrative regulation that violates the Constitution. This really makes us as both Chinese citizens and Christians feel very sorry and sad. Article 3 of the regulation states: “To become established, social organizations must be reviewed and approved by the authorized department and follow the registration procedure set out in this regulation.” Clause 2, Article 13 of the regulation states: “If there is in the same administrative area already a social organization active in the same or similar area of work, there is no need for a new organization to be established.” Therefore, it will not be approved for establishment. These two articles completely deprive citizens’ freedom of association endowed by the Constitution. Therefore, we call on National People’s Congress and its Standing Committee to conduct an examination on the “Regulation on Registration and Administration of Social Organizations” that violates the Constitution and infringes upon the basic human rights of citizens. In the meantime, we advocate disobedience against this regulation by citizens based on their conscience and the law of God. Any citizens, no matter whether they are Christians or not, all have the right of association based on his or her freedom of conscience and the principle of voluntary participation among the citizens. We the Christian legal professionals, out of our deep love for the Chinese nation and the republic and a heart to fight for justice for the people of China, hereby express our strong protest against the conduct of the Ministry of Civil Affairs committed in the name of an administrative order which is in essence unconstitutional and which deprives Christians of their freedom of association and freedom of religious belief.
The Ministry of Civil Affairs is currently initiating reforms in the administration system of social organizations to expand citizens’ freedom of association. We totally understand the secret embarrassment of the Ministry of Civil Affairs in abolishing the Chinese House Church Alliance at this time. However, we think the basic human rights of citizens cannot be restricted unless it is dictated by the Constitution or the law. Even if one wants to limit people’s freedom of religion, it is as perilous as walking on very thin ice and one should think twice before he jumps! All types of gatherings by house churches and Christians are the basic form of expression of the Christian belief and should not be subject to unjust restriction or deprivation. The current law does not forcibly stipulate that the Chinese Three Self Patriotic Movement (TSPM) is the only legal Christian organization in our country and it does not prohibit citizens from practicing their freedom of religious belief either as individuals or in groups.
Various types of inappropriate administrative restrictions on house churches have affected the otherwise healthy development of Christianity in China, and these restrictions have bred many abuses and flaws that could have been avoided, causing negative impacts in many aspects of life. If this order of abolishment continues to be used in other expanded areas, this could well cause the abolishment of all the Christian house churches. This would surely have an adverse effect on the improvement of relationship between the state and the church and promotion of harmony between the state and the church while producing no benefits whatsoever.
In fact, according to investigations and study by scholars, the number of unregistered non-governmental organizations is 10 times that of the registered ones. In 2008, the non-governmental organizations, especially house churches, actively participated in the relief efforts for the May 12, 2008 earthquake and made an important contribution to the building of a harmonious society and the testimony of love and justice. That the Ministry of Civil Affairs chose the Chinese House Church Alliance as its target of attack shows first of all that civil affairs agencies may become the third main striking force in attacking house churches after the public security agencies and agencies for religious administration. Therefore, Christians must have sufficient vigilance on this trend. They should all pray for the love and justice in China and pray that house churches will stand firm on the roots of truth and good life in various complicated environments. Second, this means the growth of nine tenths of the non-governmental society is considered illegal. This is a perverse retrogression against the administrative strategy of the ruling party and the state and a perverse retrogression against rule of law, the foremost element for a harmonious society.
Here, we the Christian legal professionals call on the legal scholars of China to “do justly, and to love mercy” and use their position and knowledge by joining us in submitting a proposal in writing to the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress, requesting that they review the “Regulation on Registration and Administration of Social Organizations” pursuant to Clause 2, Article 90 of the “Law of the People’s Republic of China on Legislation” and rule that this regulation is unconstitutional and therefore should be repealed.
Here, we the Christian legal professionals call on the lawyers in China to be strong and brave and think about their mission in life and join us in helping the Chinese House Church Alliance and Pastor Zhang Mingxuan in applying for administrative reconsideration and administrative litigation and in safeguarding Christian citizens’ basic rights of freedom of association and freedom of religion.
This upcoming December 10 is the 60th anniversary of the UN’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Only when we the legal professionals of China dare to make our due contribution to the justice cleanliness of the law and order of our country, lift up our citizens’ republic and lead our next generation onto the right road, can we say that we have lived a true life as human beings.
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