House Church Rejects Orders to Stop Religious Activities
(Shangqiu, Henan—Aug. 22, 2015) Amid escalating pressure to join state-run churches, ChinaAid.org reports a house church in China’s central Henan province rejected a government order to stop its religious activities by July 20.
On July 15, the Zhecheng County Ethnic and Religious Affairs Bureau issued a notice to Proclaiming Christ Church, citing provincial religious affairs regulations and indicating that the church met without government approval. They ordered the church stop its religious activities by July 20.
Fang Guojian, a church attendee, said that the government also unsuccessfully pressured the church members to remove Proclaiming Christ Church’s signs.
“We are still gathering,” Fang said. “We wrote a petition. After [the officials] saw it, they were afraid. In the letter, we wrote that we would go to Beijing; go to Beijing and appeal. Now, they are afraid, and they do not dare to provoke us.”
Several anonymous sources reported that attempts to compel church leaders to register their church with the Three-Self Patriotic Movement (TSPM), China’s state-run church, comprise the greatest challenge house churches face. Once churches join the TSPM, they must accept government supervision and obtain approval from the religious departments before holding any activities.
According to Fang, four officials came to the church in an attempt to persuade its members to join the TSPM, but the Christians rejected the demands.
Fang said that they plan to continue to defy the authorities’ orders, and if officials harass church members, representatives of the church will travel to Beijing to legally defend their rights.
Reported in Chinese by Qiao Nong. Translated by Carolyn Song. Written in English by Brynne Lawrence.