Source: Direct Reports from China
Date: May 15, 2018
The newly revised Regulations on Religious Affairs forbid any kind of religious education to minors on sites of religious activities. To enforce this policy, local governments in Henan province issued notices banning minors from entering the church and participating in religious activities. Authorities impose this ban even on babies who are brought to church by their relatives.
Bitter Winter has learned what happened on the Sunday of May 6, 2018, in the Holy Grace Church in Tanghe County, Nanyang city, Henan province. Between 8 a.m. to 9 a.m., some believers gathered at the Holy Grace Church to attend a meeting. An elder person in his nineties was among them. Since he has difficulties to move around himself, his son drove a three-wheeler and took him and his one-year-old great-grandson to the church. Seeing the infant, the supervisor of the church ordered to take the child away immediately. A female police officer in plain clothes, designated to supervise the church by the Chengjiao Township Police Station, guarded the door. She scolded them that no child under 18 was allowed in the church. Hearing this, the son of the elder believer explained: “My father is old and could not come to the church himself. I drove him here together with my grandson. Otherwise, the child would be left unattended.” The police officer then yelled: “You’re lucky that today it is just me who saw it. If higher authorities caught you, you would have been fined 200 RMB. Take the child and leave at once!”
A believer who observed this incident said: “He is just a one-year-old child, what can he know?” The police officer replied: “That makes no difference. Get out, now!” The son of the elder believer had no choice but to leave with his grandchild.
Bitter Winter has also learned that the government forcibly removed the cross at the Holy Grace Church in September 2017 and, since then, always monitors the meetings of believers. The local government deployed dedicated agents to supervise the church, preventing minors under 18 from entering the building.