Unregistered Protestant venues are monitored by plainclothes police officers and residential communities’ managers before their churches are raided and closed.
by Tang Zhe
On September 27, a house church on the Ring West Road in Yingtan, a prefecture-level city in the southeastern province of Jiangxi, was holding a meeting when 15 Public Security Bureau and urban management officers and community committee officials stormed into the venue. The church was closed down after all its furniture was smashed, and the venue’s owner and two deacons were taken away to a police station.
On the evening of November 4, the congregation met in the venue but were discovered at 8 p.m. by over ten urban management officers despite all precautionary measures they took to avoid being found out. The officers destroyed the new furniture the congregation had brought to the venue.
On August 2, police officers and government officials raided a house church venue in Zhoukou city’s Luyi county in the central province of Henan and arrested two church leaders and a regular member and took photos of 60 congregation members. They also confiscated eight Bibles and destroyed 60 wooden benches. “House churches are illegal because they go against the Communist Party,” police officers told the congregation.
After the detained believers’ interrogation proved fruitless in gaining more information about the church, the police promised to release them if they paid a 1,000 RMB (about $ 150) fine each. However, the three believers were held for up to 15 days.
In August, plainclothes police officers arrested a house church believer who preached the gospel to passers-by near a stadium in the Dongxiang district of Jiangxi’s Fuzhou city and detained him for five days for “illegal evangelism.” They also confiscated tens of thousands of gospel leaflets found in his home.
In April, the police detained a house church believer and fined her 5,000 RMB (about $ 750) in Jiangxi’s Yichun city because she read the Bible to her neighbors.
On November 1, several house church members were holding a meeting in a park in Henan’s Zhengzhou city when over a dozen police officers and community officials arrived. They stopped the gathering, photographed all attendees, and registered their ID information. Three believers were taken to the police station on the Songshan Road and detained there until past 4 p.m. Afterward, propaganda slogans “It’s everybody’s duty to oppose xie jiao” and “Illegal religious activities are banned outside religious activity venues” appeared in the park.
On September 20, the police and Religious Affairs Bureau officials raided a house church venue in Qinzhou, a prefecture-level city in Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, as over 50 believers were finishing their gathering. The church members were photographed, and their personal information was registered. Five church members, including the church director, were taken to a local police station for interrogation. The police confiscated all Bibles, religious books, benches, a projector, a piano, and an electric fan, all worth 10,000 RMB (about $ 1,500).
According to a church member, a week before the raid, five plainclothes police officers came to the venue and took photos, saying that it was part of a “fire control inspection.”
A city government employee explained that security guards and property managers in residential compounds, as well as plainclothes police officers, are assigned to every religious venue. “Once believers are arrested, the police would open a file on them to monitor and trace them down if need be,” the official explained.