(Nanjing, Jiangsu – February 8, 2024) The local government’s civil affairs department in Jiangsu Province, under the pretext of “illegal social organizations,” released the first list of organizations to be banned in 2024. This list includes house churches, as well as other religious and social organizations. According to the official website of Nanjing Daily, on January 4, the Jiangsu Provincial Civil Affairs Department announced eight illegal social organizations that were legally banned, this being the first batch in 2024 to be banned. Along with a list of seven others suspected of being involved.
Among the eight illegal social organizations banned, there are five church institutions, including the Suzhou branch church affiliated with the Beijing Zion Church (Beijing Zion Church, Suzhou branch in the Yangtze River Delta Region) and Elim Youth Fellowship in Lianyungang City (Taolin Youth Fellowship), both house churches. Additionally, there are two local organizations of the religious group “World Mission Society Church of God,” which is considered a cult by the Chinese Communist authorities, and one “Jehovah’s Witnesses” church.
Beijing Zion Church was established in 2007 and was once the largest unofficial church in Beijing. In 2018, the authorities took action, citing that Zion Church had not registered and was “carrying out activities in the name of a social organization without authorization” thereby violating regulations such as the “Regulations On The Registration And Management Of Social Organizations.” The decision was made to “legally ban” Zion Church and its affiliated institutions, with the confiscation of illegal promotional materials.
The announcement states that if the public discovers banned illegal social organizations still conducting activities, they can report it to the public security departments according to the law. If there is the discovery of illegal social organizations continuing their activities, reports can be made to the relevant civil affairs departments.
Despite multiple official statements claiming that China’s constitution guarantees religious freedom since leader Xi Jinping took office in 2013, the Chinese Communist Party has intensified crackdowns on religions and social organizations perceived as challenging its authority.