In a veiled attempt to crush house churches, the authorities have been pressurizing landlords that rent out space to Christians.
Because the Chinese authorities often demolish house churches when they find out about them, the believers find it convenient to rent a place to gather so they can quickly move out when they are discovered.
However, the authorities have now started targeting landlords that rent out such spaces to tighten the noose around religious faith.
In April, the police in Hebei’s Zaoqiang shut down a house church on the false charge of “illegal assembly.” Other than the believers, the landlord of the site too was taken to a police station for interrogation. He was threatened and told, “It is illegal to rent a house to people who believe in God. If you rent to them again, you will be fined.”
A month later, a landlord evicted a Christian under similar pressure from the authorities. The person used to run private tutoring classes in his rented space and worried that he might be taken away, the landlord canceled the lease arbitrarily.
In the past years, several landlords in Heilongjiang have been threatened under similar pretexts as well. They were taken to the police stations and made to sign statements that won’t be renting out to Christians again.
According to commentators, this is part of CCP’s multi-pronged attack on house churches. In instances, where they are run in rented places, the authorities force the landlords to cancel the lease. The believers, in this case, keep moving from one to another. In instances where they try to buy the place, the authorities coerce the agents against the deals. When the believers try to establish a church at a site they own, it is shut down on various other pretexts. At the end of the day, the authorities keep up the harassment until the church is shut down for one reason or the other.
Reported by Feng Gang