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Pastor Accused of Conducting Illegal Religious Activities

07/31/2018 Washington D.C. (International Christian Concern) – International Christian Concern (ICC) has learned that on July 30, the Guangzhou Bible Reformed Church (GBRC) received a notice from local authorities of a 50,000 yuan fine (approximately 7,330 USD), along with evidence of Pastor Huang Xiaoning conducting “illegal religious activities.”

The fine came after the house church repeatedly refused to shut down the church or join a state-sanctioned church as previously requested by the authorities. GBRC will appeal for an administrative reconsideration.

According to China Aid, Pastor Huang stated the following after receiving the notice: “As Chinese citizens, we need to walk the path of defending our rights in accordance to law, so we will appeal for an administrative reconsideration. As the pastor of a Chinese house church, we will spread the Gospel through our rights-defending actions. Regardless of the results, we firmly believe that the Lord reigns over everything, so given our faith in God, as a church, in broad daylight, we are willing to bear temporary injustice. More persecution like this will make us understand our mission more, which is to spread the Good News. In the meantime, we have to be more cautious in everything we do, be law-biding and preserve what has been achieved, be devout children of God, and the consciousness of this society.”

This was not the first time the church has been targeted by the government. In June, security officials and the Panyu District Religious Affairs Bureau visited GBRC three times. Each time, the authorities accused them of having an “illegal religious gathering” and “illegal education (for children’s Sunday school)” and ordered them to halt their activities immediately. GBRC did not comply.

On July 15, approximately 40 staff members from the State Food and Drug Administration, the cultural law enforcement brigade, local police, and religious bureau raided GBRC, forcing the church to stop their worship. Authorities interrogated Pastor Huang and GBRC received a preliminary fine of 50,000 yuan, which the church refused to pay.

The Panyu District Religious Affairs Bureau held a four-hour hearing on July 16, accusing GBRC of being legally flawed regarding its venue, pastor’s duty, gathering, and offering. GBRC responded by saying that the government did not follow legal procedures in the hearing and evidence-gathering process.

A search of the church’s WeChat public account “gzsjgzjh” on July 31 returns with no results, meaning that it has been shut down by the government. World Watch Monitor reports that one of the church’s staff members suggested one reason for the ongoing harassment could be the church’s alleged international connections.

Gina Goh, ICC’s Regional Manager, said, “In China, when you stand against the regime, you become the prime target of the state and will be subjected to repeated persecution, as in the case of GBRC. For refusing to join the state-sanctioned church, the pastor and the church have suffered repeated harassment and interference from the government. It is shameful and reprehensible for China to disregard religious freedom as enshrined in the constitution for its people.”

For interviews with Gina Goh, Regional Manager, please contact Olivia Miller, Communications Coordinator: [email protected]