Churches in Jiaozuo city of Henan Province have been turned into communist party schools, cultural centers, and activity hubs.
In September last year, churches across the central province of Henan were taken over in droves and repurposed to suit the government’s alleged needs – at least 20 sites in Dengzhou city and more than 138 in six districts across nine counties of Luoyang city, even some belonging to the government-approved Three-Self Church. As Bitter Winter has reported, some had been turned into factories or senior centers and poverty assistance workshops.
In Jiaozuo, a prefecture-level city in northern Henan, in the scant of few days between the end of August and the start of September, multiple Three-Self churches were forcibly occupied and repurposed by the Communist Party of China.
A few days after a Three-Self church in Jiabu village of Wuzhi county had its cross dismantled, it was forcibly occupied by the government as well. On August 29, government employees from all levels of the United Front Work Department, or UFWD, gathered at the church to try to coerce the church head into handing over the keys. The negotiation dragged on for over two hours. The Christians wouldn’t comply.
And that’s when the threats began.
“These orders are from the Central Committee, resistance is useless,” the government leaders said. “Just like in the Cultural Revolution, if anyone tries to get in the way, they’ll be reformed in ‘study class,’” where the Christians would get an education in Communism.
The church acquiesced out of fear. Later, government employees confiscated more than ten computers, at least ten air-conditioning units and several chairs and tables from the church, which they then took to the town government compound.
After the church was emptied, government employees put up a signboard that read “Joy Charity Institute of Group 3, Jiabu, Dafeng town, Wuzhi county” on the church’s eastern gate. On its western gate, they put up another signboard that read: “Dafeng Town CCP Committee Base-Level Party School.” Thus, turning the place of worship that the Christians had worked so hard to build, with their own money, into a government entity.
Just a day earlier, government workers from Yangmiao town of the Gaoxin district emptied out a Three-Self church in Nie village, then removed the words “Christian Church” from the wall and put up a signboard that read: “Integrated Cultural Service Center of Nie village, Yangmiao town, Gaoxin district, Jiaozuo city.”
Simultaneously, police officers and local officials raided a Three-Self church in Zhuzhuang village, under the jurisdiction of Liwan township, in Gaoxin district, and forced the church head to take down the church’s cross and remove everything from the church. Afterwards, they put up signboards that read “Huali Wedding Celebrations” and “Cultural Activity Center.”
The Christians there were forced to cease their meetings.
On August 30, government employees went to a Three-Self church in Mengmen village, under the jurisdiction of Dafeng town, and forced the church head to sign and handprint a donation agreement, drawn up by the government, that required he hand over the church keys or be arrested. After the church was occupied and cleared out by the government, it was turned into the “Joy Charity Institute of Mengmen village, Dafeng town, Wuzhi county.”
Reported by Li Pei