Local authorities in Shandong raid a Christian gathering place and illegally detain a pastor.
On July 29, seven police officers in Shandong’s Zibo city raided a sola fide gathering. Also known as justification by faith alone, sola fide is a Christian theological doctrine held to distinguish Protestant churches from Catholic and Orthodox churches. Several Chinese house churches adopted the name Sola Fide (i.e., Protestant churches not affiliated with the government-controlled Three Self Church) after some Three Self theologians proposed to replace the traditional Protestant “sola fide” doctrine with a new “justification by love” theology.”
The gathering had more than 50 believers in attendance that day. The police stormed in and first tried to evict the people from there. But when they protested, the officers became aggressive and went on a looting spree. Two electronic keyboards, a drum, and more than ten microphones were seized. They were least bothered about being filmed and said, “No matter where you post the pictures, we’re not afraid.”
They also tore apart the portraits of Lord Jesus and smashed the podium, lectern, cross and the dedication box.
Later when Pastor Yang (pseudonym) rushed to the place, he was ordered by the police to hand over the donation money. He refused, but the police were able to loot 1,000 Yuan from the donation box anyway.
Pastor Yang was taken into detention, and the place was sealed off. Even the locks were changed to prevent believers from congregating there again.
Since President Xi Jinping came to power, the Chinese government’s persecution of religion has continuously intensified. “He is a closet Maoist—he is extremely fervent about controlling ideology,” says Willy Lam, professor and a Chinese political expert at the Chinese University of Hong Kong. “He certainly doesn’t want people to become loyal members of the church, because people would then profess their loyalty to church over the Party or to be more precise, over Xi Jinping himself.”
Reported by Jiang Tao
Jiang Tao (uses pseudonyms for security reasons), aged 42, is from Henan Province. He previously served as a magazine editor and has long been concerned about vulnerable groups that are being persecuted in China. He has written a variety of commentaries probing human rights issues in China, and his articles have been published in international journals. After leaving his magazine job in 2015, he started visiting and interviewing persecuted religious groups and other vulnerable groups and gathering information about incidents. He joined Bitter Winter in 2018, and since then is dedicated to reporting the persecution incidents in Henan, Shanghai, Anhui, and other regions.