Regarded as “illegal,” the churches refusing to join state-controlled organizations are raided and closed down.
by Tang Zhe
In recent months, the number of reports about the closures of house churches and Catholic churches that refuse to join the Chinese patriotic Catholic Association in the eastern province of Jiangxi have increased.
On July 20, the local government raided a “rebellious” Catholic church in Linchuan district’s Wenquan town under the jurisdiction of Jiangxi’s Fuzhou city. According to eyewitnesses, nearly 30 officials demanded to open the gate to the church, threatening a congregation member who was guarding the church to destroy the gate if she didn’t let them in.
The officials stormed into the church and smashed the statues of Jesus and the Virgin Mary. They also ordered to remove from the church and destroy the podium desk, benches, and other items. The statue of the Virgin Mary was burned, and the church was shut down.
Looking at the pitiful sight, the believer who guarded the church burst into tears. She denounced the officials for their atrocities, but they disregarded her.
A congregation member revealed to Bitter Winter that the state had repeatedly targeted the church since its founding in 2003. In 2017, local government officials ransacked the church and confiscated dozens of Bibles and an electronic keyboard worth more than 10,000 RMB (about $ 1,400).
In August, three Catholic churches in Fuzhou’s Dongxiang district were also closed down, the officials claiming that places of worship that are not part of the CPCA are illegal. They also threatened to fine the person in charge of one of the churches with 200,000 RMB (about $ 28,000) if he didn’t close the church down.
Meanwhile, Protestant house churches have also come under brutal suppression by the authorities in the province. Believers from Guixi city reported that from February to September, at least 23 meeting venues of “old Local Church” – a Chinese Christian religious movement in the tradition of Watchman Nee – have been raided, 16 of which were forced to close.
One of the venues, located in Sili town under the jurisdiction of Guixi city, was emptied in mid-July, the valuables worth around 7,600 RMB (about $ 1,060) taken away by the government. The person in charge was threatened to be arrested if he continued holding religious meetings.
In August, the government forcibly closed down an old Local Church meeting venue in Dexing city’s Xiangtun subdistrict because it was “unlicensed.” Around the same time, a Sola Fide meeting venue in Jiujiang city was shut down for the same reason.