The Three-Self Church in Shuangmiao village is one of many government-controlled churches recently demolished in Henan Province.
The crackdown on religion in China has affected even the Three-Self Churches that belong to the State-approved united Protestant church. On May 2, 2017, a church under construction that belonged to the government-controlled Protestant Three-Self Church in Shuangmiao village, Shangqiu city, Henan Province, was forcibly demolished by the local police for not having a required approval, and eight of its leaders sentenced and fined.
An inside source revealed that on May 2, at approximately 9 a.m., officers from Public Security Bureaus in Shangqiu city and Ningling County, as well as Luogang town local police station, jointly dispatched more than 200 fully armed officers to Shuangmiao village in seven coaches and over ten squad cars. The police blocked all the roads to the village, prohibiting anyone from entering or leaving.
Several dozen armed police officers charged into the church and forcibly took away eight leaders of the church. Upon seeing this, some members of the church tried to reason with police officers but were violently beaten.
An elderly church member, over 70-years-old, stepped forward to block the officers and asked why they were arresting and beating people. Three officers surrounded the woman, twisted her arms behind her back and pulled them, pushing her to the ground. In the struggle, a layer of skin was scraped off of the old woman’s arm, but the officers simply ignored this and pushed and shoved her all the way to a squad car.
Over 60 other church members were detained and sent to Ningling County Public Security Bureau or Luogang town local police station. The church leaders were taken either to Shangqiu Pingtai Detention Center or Ningling County Detention Center.
After the police seized the leaders and members of the church, the personnel in charge of the demolition promptly used two large excavators to demolish the church, which had not yet been officially completed.
According to an inside source, the eight church leaders were charged with “using a xie jiao organization to undermine law enforcement,” and each was fined over 40,000 RMB, almost 6,000 USD. Besides, they were each charged 10,000 RMB in lawyer fees. They were all sentenced to varying sentences of six to ten months.
Xie jiao teachings, listed by the government as “heterodox” in a periodically updated list, are prohibited; being active in xie jiao is punishable by law. Three-Self churches are government-approved, therefore, should not be considered as heterodox, though with the increasing crackdown on religious liberties in China, authorities often use the laws against xie jiao to persecute Christians who, in fact, do not belong to outlawed religious movements.
Reported by Jiang Tao