This month, Chinese officials accused one of the pastors of a house church of owing a huge fine for using their private residence as a church, even though the government had already previously seized the church’s income. The fine increased from more than 100,000 yuan ($14,500 USD) to over 7 million yuan ($1,020,200 USD). The government came up with this number by calculating the amount of donations the church had received since the first gathering in April 2009 to the last on in November 2015.
2017-05-30 China (China Aid) Authorities from a religious affairs bureau in China’s central Guizhou province fined a serially persecuted house church 7 million yuan ($1,020,200 USD) despite having previously confiscated the church’s income.
On the evening of May 19, officials from the Nanming District Religious Affairs Bureau issued an administrative penalty to Su Tianfu, one of the pastors of Huoshi Church, claiming that he and another of Huoshi Church’s pastors, the currently imprisoned Yang Hua, owed a fine of over 7 million yuan.
“Someone knocked on my door at 7 p.m. yesterday,” Su told a ChinaAid reporter on May 20. “It was four officials from the ethnic and religious affairs bureau. I told them it was late, but they said they were working overtime. Nothing could be done about it. Then they delivered an administrative penalty notice to me.
“Last time,” Su continued, “they came on behalf of city management and planning departmentsand accused us of changing the purpose of a house (that we used as a church office.) The original fine was more than 100,000 yuan ($14,500 USD), but the government raised it to more than 200,000 yuan ($29,000 USD.) Because we didn’t have enough money to pay this fine, the government confiscated our private property, including a private residence of mine and [Huoshi Church accountant] Zhang Xiuhong’s automobile.”
According to the notice, Su and Yang committed the crime of establishing religious sites without authorization. Yang was listed on the notice under his legal name, Li Guozhi. The bureau’s investigation concluded that between April 2009 and November 2015, when Huoshi Church was closed down, the two pastors established the church without permission, organized religious activities, and received donations totaling 7,053,710.68 yuan.
“By this 7 million yuan total, the government meant the total sum of donations the church received from the very first gathering on April 10, 2009 to the last one on Dec. 9, 2015, when the church was banned,” Su explained. “The [officials] confiscated the church’s account book after arresting Zhang Xiuhong. They used that to calculate the donation money we have received.”