Before the shutdown of Beijing’s Zion Church earlier this month, authorities made numerous attempts at coercing believers to leave the church.
Recently, Bitter Winter reported about the timeline of events that eventually led to shutting down of the largest house church in Beijing, the Zion Church.
We have now accessed details that describe the behind-the-scenes coercion that was going on since past few months.
The church has a total of six branches, in Beijing. In June this year, authorities ambushed small congregations of believers twice at one of those branches, True Light. Believers would be made to register their personal details and IDs, after which the police would order everyone to go home.
A schoolteacher, who is also a Party member as well as a believer at the church’s branch in Xueqing, was threatened that she would be fired if did not stop going to the church and sign a guarantee stating the same.
A woman who had attended a Zion church congregation only once was harassed by police on the phone several times and was told that she wasn’t “allowed to attend” gatherings at the church again.
At another branch in Wangjing, a female church leader found her housing agreement being terminated abruptly. Later, it turned out that the landlord was working on the directives of her village’s Party committee. The village cadres soon called her in for a meeting, where they demanded that she sign a guarantee that she wouldn’t attend Zion Church congregations if she wanted to keep living at her place.
As per our sources, nearly 300 believers were questioned or interrogated between April and August. Several more members of the church were targeted similarly and forced to sign such guarantees. Believers who were university students were interrogated by campus secretaries and guidance counselors about their religious beliefs. They further emphasized that attending the Zion church was akin to participating in an illegal religious activity.
To dismantle the church as soon as possible, the local government had issued orders to personnel in various departments that they must question a certain number of members every day and force them to sign the guarantees. The officials were warned too; their performance on this task would be reflected in their yearly assessments.
As per the latest developments, the head pastor, Jin Mingri, was taken away to a resort, where he was held for several hours. Six others, including pastors ministers too were taken away, were held at separate locations for hours. Authorities also confiscated their cell phones during this period.
Reported by Feng Gang