(Xiamen, Fujian—June 28, 2019) Church members across China still continue to grapple with persecution at the hands of government officials.
Authorities in the country have settled into a practice of raiding churches during Sunday service. On June 16, authorities marched into the Shanxi-based Taiyuan Cornerstone Church, closed down the building, and hauled off worshipers.
According to congregants, police coerced believers to blaspheme the church via written testimony.
On the same day, police made their way into a campus of Xunsiding Church in Xiamen, Fujian. Authorities told members to halt worship and stole cell phones to prevent people from videotaping or photographing their actions.
A few days earlier on June 13, Xiamen police burst into Xinzao Church while believers were engaged in a Bible study. Accompanied by officials from the local religious affairs bureau, authorities filmed attendees and interrupted fellowship, ultimately taking away the church’s minister and at least 30 believers.
Church members engaged with government personnel, reminding officials how the Chinese Constitution provides protection for religious freedom (Article 36). One police officer asked believers who told them constitutions protects religious freedom.
Xinzao Church’s minister was released after several hours in custody. Police noted down the ID and cell phone numbers of believers.
Xinzao Church has also faced other raids. At one point, uniformed officers burst into the church and demanded worship to cease. Congregants asked officials why they broke into private property. Police grilled believers about what they were doing and threatened to take away cell phones.
Local Christians say Xiamen authorities plan to close down all house churches within two years. Officials raided Living Fountain Church, Haifu Church, Jimei Church, and the Mount of Olives Church in May.
Authorities reportedly told pastors of Jimei Church to cease fellowship before May 31.
In May, a campus of Xunsiding Church located in Xiangan District, Xiamen, faced harassment by a large group of police. According to congregants, police came on May 16, told worshipers to stop the service, and stole cell phones to prevent people from taking videos and photos.
In Sichuan, congregants of Early Rain Covenant Church noted how Pastor Wang Yi’s wife, Jiang Rong, is under residential surveillance after being sent to the home of one of her elder brothers. Jiang was released on bail on June 11.
Church members also say they have been sent off to different areas under residential surveillance after being bailed out. Those sent away are not allowed to have visitors other than biological family.
One congregant said the process of sending people away and placing them under residential surveillance is analogous to moving from one prison to another, since people have no freedom of speech or activity.