Preachers and pastors from state-approved Three-Self Church continue to suffer violent abuse for any divergence from the CCP’s plan to suppress people of faith.
by Lu An
Preacher detained for “lack of proactiveness”
Earlier this year, officials from a county government under the jurisdiction of Fuyang city in the eastern province of Anhui ordered the removal of a cross on a Three-Self church because “the cross was too high and too conspicuous.”
The church’s preacher was unwilling to carry out this order, so he has put off the task multiple times. However, in April, officials showed up at the church and forcibly demolished the cross as well as the four Chinese characters 基督教堂 (meaning “Christian Church”). They also demanded to dismantle the pillar at the church’s entrance, on which the cross was placed, but the preacher refused to do this as well.
The preacher paid the price for his disobedience. On the night of April 18, five government officials drove to the preacher’s home, dragged him from the bed and severely beat him outside his home. The following evening, the police returned and arrested the preacher; he was kept at the county’s detention center for ten days. The church’s pillar and newly-built two-story building were forcibly demolished.
Officials from the local Religious Affairs Bureau intimidated the preacher’s congregation, stating that the church’s fate would be decided on whether they abide by the Party’s religious policies.
Arrested for a 10-minute delay
The reason for the arrest of another preacher from Fuyang is even more absurd. On April 14, local government officials came to the church during a gathering of the congregation and demanded the preacher to stop preaching so that they can promote the CCP’s policies.
The preacher asked for ten minutes to finish her sermon, but the officials rudely ordered her to stop immediately and threatened to cut off the church’s electricity supply if she didn’t.
Believers intervened, the situation turning into a heated dispute with the officials, who, having no other arguments, ordered workers to cut off the electricity supply and called the police to arrest the preacher. Although the preacher was released the same day, the authorities’ ruthlessness has left the believers with lingering trepidation.
Police trump-up charges to intimidate pastor
Meanwhile, a pastor at a Three-Self church in Henan’s Nanyang city was arrested on fabricated charges because he didn’t agree with the merger of churches – one of the CCP’s policies to reduce the number of places of worship to increase control over them.
Last year, the pastor received an order from the government to merge with other churches. Believing that this was merely an excuse for the CCP to shut down legitimate religious venues, he opposed it. In the beginning of October, the local Public Security Bureau took him away for an interrogation on the grounds that there was “a problem with the church’s accounts.”
Officials threatened him to obey the government in every respect, or his pastoral position would be revoked, and a new pastor who is obedient to the government will take over his job.
Members of the congregation believe that the charges about the finances were falsified to teach the pastor a lesson. “They wanted to declare the pastor guilty to eliminate anyone who is against the government,” commented one of the churchgoers, deeply concerned about the pastor.