The CCP continues cracking down on house churches and state-approved venues in the southeastern province of Jiangxi.
by Tang Zhe
China’s regime did not cease suppressing places of worship across the country even amid the coronavirus outbreak. In Jiangxi Province’s Shangrao city alone, at least 400 Three-Self and house church venues were suppressed in the spring—some demolished, while others closed or repurposed, their crosses destroyed. In the city’s Yugan county, 234 churches and venues were recently shut down; 48 Three-Self sites were closed between April 18 and 30.
Workers are removing the cross from a Three-Self church in Shangrao.
“The central and provincial governments planned to send a team to focus on rectifying Christianity in Yugan county,” a local preacher told Bitter Winter. He added that his church’s cross was ordered to be removed. “If we didn’t do it, the church could have been demolished when the team came,” the preacher explained.
A Three-Self church has been converted into a “Civilization Practice Center for a New Era,” with portraits of Mao Zedong and Xi Jinping posted inside.
The director of another Three-Self church revealed to Bitter Winter that the local government ordered to rectify all state-run churches without exception, claiming that the order came from the central government. He added that all churches built or approved after 2014, even those holding all necessary permits, were ordered to be closed.
Both Three-Self and house churches in Guangxin and Guangfeng districts of Shangrao were relentlessly suppressed, resulting in at least 85 closed or demolished venues.
A venue of the old Local Church in Guangxin was demolished on May 7. It was built with over 200,000 RMB (about $ 28,000) donated by the congregation on the land they have purchased.
“The government forces us to join the Three-Self Church,” a congregation member said. “We were pressured last year to allow them to manage our donations and were demanded to sing the national anthem in church. Our venue was demolished because we refused to compromise.” The believer added that the local police monitors the cellphones of the church’s key personnel. Therefore, the congregation now meets secretly in small groups.
A Seventh-day Adventist Church venue in Huanggu town in the Guangxin district was also forcibly destroyed.
The campaign to remove crosses, as the primary symbol of Christianity, continues unabated. A preacher of a Three-Self church whose cross has been taken down told Bitter Winter that many Christian places of worship in Shangrao had been targeted and lost their crosses as a result of a unified operation. “We can do nothing about it. Resistance would mean facing a gun’s muzzle—we could be accused of more and more serious crimes.”