China: Crackdown on House Churches Underway
Even as Christianity is expected to have its single largest population in China in the years to come and continues to see explosive growth in the nation of China, government control continues to attempt to stifle the growth of house churches throughout the country.
A recent August 31 meeting in China’s central Henan province outlined a new initiative launched targeting unauthorized Catholic and Protestant churches and forcing them to comply with government Party regulations according to a new report released by China Aid.
China Aid reports,
"According to government department head Tai Xuchen, the meeting’s purpose was to divide the responsibility of regulating house churches, disposing of “illegal” religious institutions in order to protect people who take part in “legal” religious activities and maintain the stability and order of religions. In order to accomplish this, he emphasized the necessity of stringent regulations, claiming, “The frequent emergence of private religious sites in our county disrupts the legal religious activities.” "
The Chinese government outlined a four step plan to identify and stop illegal formations of house churches in the country in favor of state run and controlled churches that are accountable to the state in the way they do business accept donations and even what they preach according to sources familiar with the situation.
China Aid reports, "This campaign echoes the new political trend set out in a revision of China’s Regulations on Religious Affairs, which was introduced by the State Council in early September. The revision introduces tighter control on peaceful religious activities, such as punishing house church meetings by imprisoning Christians or heavily fining church leaders, forbidding religious adherents from attending conferences or trainings abroad and barring minors from receiving religious education.
These measures violate China’s own Constitution, which claims to guarantee religious liberty and condemns discriminating against religious and non-religious citizens. Additionally, it breaches the country’s pledges to adhere to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, and the United Nations’ Convention on the Rights of the Child."