Since the coronavirus restrictions started to be lifted in March, the CCP intensified attacks on Protestant venues that are not part of the state-run church.
by Wu Qingshan
In May, three venues of the Great Praise Church, a house church in the Kaizhou district of Chongqing, a megacity in southwest China under the central government’s direct administration, were suppressed by local authorities.
A congregation member told Bitter Winter that six police officers and community officials stormed into the church venue in the district’s Zhongji community a bit after 9 a.m. on May 28, saying that “believers were holding an illegal gathering.”
The officers broke a blackboard in front of the podium, confiscated believers’ Bibles and hymnbooks, and took away the church preacher. He was released later the same day.
The church venue in the district’s Pingqiao community was raided twice in three days a week before the attack on the Zhongji community site. One of the preachers and three congregation members were taken away and detained for several hours.
“The police claimed that our meetings were illegal and confiscated church benches, a blackboard, over 20 Bibles and hymnbooks,” a congregation member told Bitter Winter. “They said that they wanted to eliminate our church during Lunar New Year celebrations but had to shelve the plans temporarily due to the epidemic.”
Two community officers were assigned to monitor the venue to prevent congregation members from entering it.
The church venue in the Zhendong sub-district was shut down by the police some time ago, but several congregation members managed to get inside it on May 20 by cutting the iron wires that kept it locked. Later that day, police officers holding electric batons charged into the venue and dragged congregation members outside, smashing benches along the way. An elderly believer and a woman, who was handcuffed after an officer pushed her to the ground, knelt on her and pressed her neck with a hand, were taken to a police station. They were kept there for a few hours.
An eyewitness said that a young onlooker took photos with her phone but was soon spotted by the police who confiscated the device.
Three members of another house church in Chongqing were arrested on April 14. The police raided their homes, confiscating Bibles and destroying crosses. One of them was detained for 15 days without any charges. During interrogation, the police told him that “there was nothing wrong with believing in God, but his church was illegal as long as Xi Jinping does not allow it.”