Many Church of Almighty God members are left broke after police raid their homes and seize their savings, claiming that they are hiding the money for the Church.
by Li Mingxuan
“I have never spent money on good food and clothes, more than five yuan for a haircut. I was saving money for the future and for medical needs. But I had never expected that the police would loot all my savings,” a woman in her eighties from Zibo, a prefecture-level city in the eastern province of Shandong, told Bitter Winter, as she started recounting the ordeal she went through more than a year ago.
In November 2018, several public security officers stormed into the home, where she lived with her husband. They started rummaging through their belongings and soon found the family’s entire life’s savings – 145,000 RMB (about $ 20,000). The reason for raiding the home of this law-abiding couple was that they were members of The Church of Almighty God (CAG) – the largest Chinese Christian new religious movement. Due to its rapid growth, the CCP regards the CAG as a threat to its regime. It was included in the list of the xie jiao in 1995 and has become the most targeted and heavily persecuted religious movement in China ever since.
“We saved the money by growing and selling vegetables. Please leave some for us, at least a little bit, to buy salt. We can’t do without food,” the old woman pleaded with the officers, but they ignored her, insisting that the money belongs to the Church. Saying that the money was illegal, the police took away all the couple’s hard-earned savings.
Hoping to eradicate religious groups by taking away their finances, the CCP has been looting valuables and donation money from places of worship (including state-approved) on the grounds that they were “illegally collected funds.” The government also strictly supervises the finances of churches it runs and regulates, thereby restricting and banning regular religious activities. Confidential government documents show that financial control over foreign-related religious groups and churches in China is a crucial part of religious suppression work.
According to the ordinances on the launch of campaigns to annihilate the CAG, issued last year in the provinces of Henan, Shanxi, Jiangxi, and other regions, taking over the Church’s donation money is essential for the success of suppression operations. Relevant government institutions are ordered to identify the locations of donation money and seize it, arresting anyone involved.
A CAG member from Puyang, a city in the central province of Henan, told Bitter Winter that in early April 2019, four local police officers stormed into her house and searched it. They found 100,000 RMB (about $ 14,000) the woman had saved for her son’s wedding. She explained to the officers that the money didn’t belong to the church, but they ignored her and took away the money.
“Wherever the CCP extends its evil hands, there will be a disaster. I believe in God without committing any crime, but the police arrested me and took away my family’s hard-earned money,” the believer said with grief.
The son of CAG believers from the northern province of Shanxi died during an accident on the construction site where he worked. His boss gave the family 50,000 RMB (about $ 7,000) as compensation. On September 9, 2019, over a dozen police officers stormed into the family’s house and searched it without presenting any warrant. They found the compensation money under a bed.
The grieving couple explained that the money was given to them as compensation for their son’s death. Still, the police confiscated it anyway, insisting that the money belonged to the Church, and detained the couple
“I was mourning my son. I never thought that even the money for his death would be taken away. The CCP is driving people to desperation!” the woman said, unable to hide her pain.