April 21 was Easter. The CCP “celebrated” the day by harassing dissident Catholics, house church Protestants, and even devotees of the government-controlled Three Self Church.
House Church Meeting Venue Demolished
On Easter Day, a house church located in Binzhou city’s Gaoxin district of eastern China’s Shandong Province was raided by the police. The meeting venue was forcibly demolished, and three believers were arrested.
That day, a few believers came to the church early to prepare for celebrations. Unexpectedly, however, they were discovered by police officers on patrol. Soon, more than 30 people from Gaoxin district—including public security personnel, special police, the district’s mayor, the police station chief, and an electrician—arrived at the church. They blocked off the entrance to the church, prohibited pedestrians from passing through, and prevented believers from entering.
Special police officers, armed with guns, searched inside the meeting venue for the believer in charge of the celebrations, but to no avail. The police arrested three male believers, and dispersed the others into the church’s courtyard, to be watched over collectively. They then began raiding the church, and confiscated everything they found, including Bibles, furniture, and a piano. Shortly thereafter, the meeting venue’s electrical wires were cut, and the roofs, doors and windows were all demolished. The three arrested believers were later released, but the congregation was effectively dispersed. “Hearing the sound of doors and windows being smashed was both grudging and frightening,” one believer told Bitter Winter.
Catholic Dissidents Prevented from Celebrating Easter
While Vatican authorities interpret the Vatican-China deal of 2018 to the effect that the Catholic Patriotic Church and the Catholic Underground Church should quietly merge into a unified organization loyal to both Rome and the regime, the CCP continues to harass those Catholics who did not become members of the Patriotic Association. When they prepared to hold celebrations for Easter, several such dissident Catholic congregations in southeast Fujian Province’s Fuzhou city were repressed by the authorities.
A Catholic believer in Fuzhou told Bitter Winter that at around 8:00 in the evening of April 21, more than 100 believers were attending the Easter evening Mass at the church’s meeting venue in Dongcheng Apartment building. The police arrived and dispersed the believers.
On Easter eve, the authorities also mobilized more than 30 special police and public security personnel to stop the Haiyan Catholic House of Prayer from holding an Easter Vigil. That night, security personnel and special police guarded inside and outside the church, and put up a fence outside the church’s entrance to prevent believers from entering. One dissident priest told Bitter Winter, “Of the four major Catholic holidays, Easter is the most solemn. But in China, we have no religious freedom, so all of these activities have been prohibited.” It was reported to Bitter Winter that even communities of the CCP-controlled Three Self Church suffered limitations at Easter.
As the CCP’s religious suppression continues to intensify, the main religious holidays have been targeted under the pretext of “maintaining stability.” Believers will face a growing risk when holding celebrations.