After forcing religious heads to remove crosses from their government-approved Three-Self churches, authorities are now shutting down churches and other congregation sites.
Bitter Winter has recently reported about church crosses being taken down on orders of Henan authorities. We have now accessed reports as per which, more than eighty were shut down in August alone. Some of these were government-controlled Protestant churches that belong to the China Protestant Three-Self Patriotic Movement.
On August 13, government officials and police officers showed up at the Songwangzhuang church in Henan’s Yongcheng county. They announced the closure of the church and also ordered that believers removed the word “Emanuel” from its walls. They further threatened, “No one is allowed to move church property; all of it belongs to the government; and, if anyone dares to move it, their hands will be chopped off. Also, if you dare to assemble at your homes secretly, you’ll be thrown in prison.”
Two days later, a rural Three-Self church in Yucheng county was targeted. The village’s Party cadre tore down the portraits of Jesus inside the church and burnt the Bibles verses hung on the walls. The believers of the church, most of whom were elderly, were told, “even if three or more people are gathered together, they will immediately be detained.”
Another Three-Self church in the county was also shut down in last week of August. Officials from the Bureau of Religious Affairs ordered for the locks at the Zhutun village church to be changed and confiscated the property.
As per unconfirmed statistics, authorities in Henan shut down 84 congregation sites of all sizes in the last two weeks of August.
Reported by Jiang Tao
Video Explanation: Zhutun Three-Self church’s cross being pried off