ICC Note: The Chinese government is actively enforcing a new set of religious regulations enacted this month. A large Protestant church in Guangdong province was ordered to close just two weeks ago. Officials in Henan province also say they stand ready to demolish church buildings not approved by the government.
02/20/2018 China (Radio Free Asia) – Authorities in the southern Chinese province of Guangdong have ordered a large Protestant church to close, while officials in Henan say they will begin demolishing any church buildings not approved by the government, RFA has learned.
The Shekou One Country International Church in Guangdong’s Shenzhen city was visited for a fire and safety inspection two weeks ago, and has now been sealed off by the Futian district police and fire department’s inspection department.
The move isn’t the first time the 3,000-member church has been forced out of its premises. It was previously forced to relocate after police put pressure on the landlord to evict it from its headquarters in Shekou, later holding large-scale gatherings for worship in a movie theater in Nanshan district.
Now, the church’s new premises near Futian’s Chegong Temple have been sealed off, with an “order of premises closure” pasted to the doors.
“Anyone found breaking these seals or other otherwise making use of premises sealed off by police and fire services will be liable for administrative detention of 10-15 days’ duration,” the notice warns.
The church is currently led by a U.S. national, a pastor known as Bill, a church member who asked not to be identified told RFA. Its members have been meeting weekly on Fridays in the building for prayers and worship for the past five years.
“Now that the Chegong Temple venue has been shut down, they will go to to the Nanyou Movie Theater to hold their meetings instead,” the church member said.
The church is called “International” for a reason: around one third of its members hail from Europe, the United States, Australia, the Philippines, and other Southeast Asian countries.
Local Chinese members are typically migrant workers in factories in and around the Pearl River Delta cities of Shenzhen and Zhuhai.
For interviews with Gina Goh, ICC’s Regional Manager, please contact Olivia Miller, Communications Coordinator: [email protected].