As the province with the most significant number of religious people, Henan continues to suffer Cultural Revolution-style crackdown on its churches.
Churches continue to be closed down and repurposed, their assets plundered, crosses dismantled, and Bibles burnt. Even the government-approved Three-Self churches cannot escape the hurricane of the anti-religion campaign launched by the Chinese authorities.
On March 15, about ten officials from the local United Front Work Department and police officers stormed into a meeting venue run by the Three-Self Church in Dahou township of Yucheng county, under the jurisdiction of Shangqiu city. After searching the place, they piled all Bibles and other Christian books, as well as the religious symbols that they managed to find and burned them. They took away all the chairs, musical instruments, and other valuables from the meeting venue.
The church’s leader sought to reason with the officials, saying that members of the congregation purchased all of the things and that the government had no right to confiscate them.
One official chided, “People are not allowed to believe in anything that the government doesn’t allow. Anything that has religious overtones must be confiscated.”
A co-worker from the church said that the authorities ordered the meeting venue to stop holding gatherings in September 2018. Therefore, the officials came to do what they directed and took away the church’s property.
In late August, a Three-Self meeting venue, built with more than 500,000 RMB (about $74,200) donated by members of the congregation, was forcibly shut down in Guodian town under the jurisdiction of Xinzheng city. The township government said that it did not have a religious venue registration certificate.
In early March this year, village officials destroyed the three cone-shaped symbols at the top of the entrance to the meeting venue, which was later converted into the “Xiaosi Village Party-Masses Service Center.”
A month earlier, a Three-Self church in Sanmenxia city’s Lushi county was also forcibly closed down. When the village Party secretary ordered to shut down the church, its leader said that the church was approved by the Two Chinese Christian Councils for believers to congregate. The secretary replied ruthlessly, “The government is closing churches now, it means they do not allow you to believe [in God] anymore, and so you can’t develop or spread the gospel. You elderly believers are getting older and older, and minors are prohibited from entering churches. In this way, Christianity will be eliminated.”
Two days later, the Party secretary coerced one of the church’s deacons into handing over the keys, and forcibly closed down the church.
The church’s leader revealed that nearly 40 Three-Self meeting venues in Lushi county were shut down between August 2018 to April 2019. He said that this is the most severe campaign to “annihilate religion” since the Cultural Revolution.
One government official commented, “It’s the second Cultural Revolution now. Xi Jinping is taking the old path of Mao. Anyone who resists will be punished and sent to prison. Nowadays, the government doesn’t allow churches to exist and is occupying them. Just like during the era of Mao Zedong, territories were occupied and turned into a revolutionary base.”