Protestant house churches, regarded as a threat to the regime due to large numbers of believers, face total extinction, people threatened to give up their faith.
by Tang Zhe
Police: Evangelism harms people
“Evangelism in public places disturbs social order, harms the people, and breaks the law,” an officer, holding a copy of the new Regulations on Religious Affairs in hand, was berating two house church believers on October 12. The two believers in Nanchang, the capital of the southeastern province of Jiangxi, were arrested for distributing gospel leaflets in a local market that day and were brought to a police station.
Later in the month, local government officials accused a house church believer of “slandering and rebelling against the state.” He was diagnosed as having “a mental disorder” because he had religious stickers on his motorbike, arrested, and sent to a mental hospital. On November 1, his family went to the hospital to visit him but were refused. A doctor told them to come back in a month.
On September 29, five house church believers from Nanyang city in the central province of Henan were arrested and interrogated after they were reported for evangelizing. The next day, police officers escorted them to a detention center. Three of them were detained for 13 days, and two for 10, and each was fined 500 RMB (about $ 70). When released, they were all forced to sign a statement of repentance, which reads: “You are not allowed to hold religious belief after returning home; otherwise, you will be given a prison sentence.”
100+ police officers raid Seventh-day Adventist church
To intensify their persecution efforts, the CCP started labeling regular house churches as xie jiao, the term earlier reserved for groups identified as banned “heterodox teachings.”
A Seventh-day Adventist house church in Neijiang city in the southwestern province of Sichuan was raided on October 19. More than 200 people, including government officials and police officers, came to the church, claiming that it was a xie jiao. Officers took photos of each believer present, ordered to cut off electricity supply to the building, and took some valuables from the church.
Four police officers dragged two church co-workers out of the residential building where the meeting venue is located, pushed them on the ground and beat them. The two believers, along with the church’s pastor and preacher, were escorted to a detention house for interrogation. They were released later the same day.
A week later, the church was raided again. This time, more than 100 officials and police officers blocked the entrance to the venue, forbidding anyone from entering. The officials confiscated the tables, chairs, audio equipment, and other church property, throwing Bibles into a trash can outside. The officials also ordered to weld the entrance to the venue and install a surveillance camera above it.
According to a congregation member, several churchgoers received calls from officials, who threatened to withhold the salaries of their children and grandchildren or impede their futures if the believers did not give up their belief.
Donation money looted, Bibles confiscated
On December 1, local officials, accompanied by the police, harassed a house church in Jiangxi’s Nanchang on the ground that it “was holding illegal meetings and disturbing public order.” They destroyed the church’s blackboard, seized Bibles and hymnbooks, and confiscated more than 800 RMB (about $ 115) of donation money.
“The government inverts justice and makes trouble out of nothing. It just wants to eradicate the church,” the man in charge of the church said with anger.
In late November, a meeting venue of the old Local Church in Sizhou town, administered by Jiangxi’s Dexing city, was sealed off for refusing to join the Three-Self Church. Since then, the congregation meets in a shabby bicycle shed.