Believers in Shandong have suffered years of suppression of their religious belief. After having moved their congregation site multiple times, they face a permanent closure in the near future.
Bitter Winter spoke to Pastor Yang (pseudonym) who revealed details of how the Chinese authorities have doggedly targeted his house church in Shandong.
It started in January 2008. Police officers showed up at the church and filmed the congregation of believers without permission. They then forced all of them to sign a form that stated they had participated in an “illegal congregation.” Later, the site had to be shut down.
Soon the believers found a new venue to congregate. However, by the end of 2009, authorities found out about that as well. Nearly a dozen government officials made visits to the site and again, the congregation was filmed. Even the company that had rented out the building to the church was pressurized to withdraw its contract.
The believers then moved to a new site, which was discovered in the spring of 2010. Officials from the local Religious Affairs bureau arranged for personnel to monitor the site 24 hours a day and stop believers from going inside. Pastor Yang was also put on house arrest and forced to join the government-controlled Three-Self church. This harassment continued for over two months.
Throughout the eight years after that, authorities have harassed the believers. Whenever they find a new place, the officials find out about it and use various methods to drive them out.
On September 23, 2018, five employees from the national United Front Works Department charged into the church’s latest congregation site. They demanded that the church put up the Chinese flag and sing the national anthem during sermons. Believers were ordered to bring in their ID cards. Pastor Yang, however, refused to obey.
So once again, the site was closed down, and the church had to find a new place to congregate.
As per the new Regulations on Religious Affairs, anyone who facilitates religious activities not only stands to lose all their assets but will also be fined anything between 20,000 to 200,000 RMB (approximately 2,900 to 29,000 USD). This is done to ensure no one rents out space to a house church.
Reported by Jiang Tao