Underground Church in Henan Faces Increasing Pressure
ICC Note: Local government in China’s central Henan province has tightened its grip on worshippers from underground church. Hefty fine and threats are imposed on underground Christians to coerce them into joining the state-sanctioned churches, which many refuse.
03/03/2018 China (China Aid) – According to Christians in China’s central Henan province, the local public security bureaus and religious affairs bureaus have started targeting house church members with threats and fines since early February.
A new initiative in Nanyang, Henan, explicitly forbids any kind of religious gatherings in people’s homes. Anyone caught attending or hosting meetings outside of a registered religious venue will be subject to a fine of 30,000 yuan (U.S. $4,700). All Christians in the area are ordered to join an officially registered church.
China’s current religious policy dictates that only Buddhism, Taoism, Islam, Protestant Christianity, and Catholicism, which are officially recognized by the State, are legal for citizens to participate in, and they may only do so in churches, mosques, or temples operated by the government. The official Chinese Protestant church is known as the Three-Self Patriotic Movement, named for its principles of self-governance (no recognition of religious authorities from outside China), self-support (no financial ties to foreign organizations), and self-propagation (no influence from foreign missionaries).
Because most of these churches are instructed to teach loyalty to the Communist Party and the Chinese State and often teach propaganda over the actual tenets of these faiths, many faithful religious adherents choose to meet outside of the official religious system, in groups known as house churches or underground churches.
A local Christian, Ms. Wang, spoke to a reporter about the situation on Feb. 28. “Some of the house church members did not register with the Three-Self Churches, and government officials showed up and inspected their houses. Some brothers and sisters have been too scared to gather. Some split into smaller groups and continue to meet.”
Another anonymous Christian in Nanyang decorated their door with Christian-themed couplet banners for Chinese New Year only to have them torn off the door and ripped apart by authorities.
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