The CCP eradicates unregistered Protestant venues, harassing and arresting believers, imposing hefty fines on them.
by Lin Yijiang
On September 3, Zhengzhou city government officials in the central province of Henan raided a local house church, the Church of Antioch, and confiscated two computers and over ten Bibles. They took away the church’s director, two deacons, and a congregation member.
During interrogation, Religious Affairs Bureau officials and police officers pressured the director to write a statement promising to give up his faith and stop holding religious meetings. They said that any gathering of ten people or more without the government’s approval was illegal. The director was detained for three days and fined 100,000 RMB (about $ 14,000).
House churches in the eastern province of Zhejiang suffer similar crackdowns. On September 13, Kaihua county police in Quzhou city raided a remote old Local Church venue and installed five surveillance cameras inside and by the entrance. They also posted signs promoting the core socialist values. Believers did not dare to meet again and closed down the venue. A week before the closure, a congregation member was detained for ten days for cutting wires to one of the surveillance cameras.
In July, local authorities posted notices banning gatherings in “illegal religious activity venues” at entrances to two house church venues in Quzhou’s Longyou county. A house church preacher from the area said that the government shut down more than 20 house churches in the county since the second half of 2019.
The Yinzuo International Christian Venue in the Keqiao district of Shaoxing city was shut down in August. Religious Affairs Bureau officials repeatedly demanded the venue join the Three-Self Church and ordered its director to provide the list of congregation members, but he refused.
On August 30, a house church venue in Keqiao district’s Xiyi village was closed for refusing to join the Three-Self Church. Two other sites were sealed off in the district’s Xingqi village.
On August 9, the police broke into a Sola Fide venue in Jiangtang town administered by Jinhua city’s Wucheng district and accused believers of “holding illegal gatherings.” They took photos of the 18 believers present and registered their personal information. Two deacons were taken to a police station.
Local officials threatened to cancel the believers’ medical insurance, dismiss their family members who work in government institutions, and deprive their children of opportunities to study in universities if they gathered again. Some believers still refused to join the Three-Self Church. “The government just wants to make us obey them and put us under their control,” a church member said.
In July, the police raided and shut down another Sola Fide meeting venue in the Wucheng district.