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11/01/2018 China (International Christian Concern) – House churches or “family churches” have become increasingly popular in China, after China launched a nationwide campaign a little under three years ago that has been closing down churches off and on. House churches provide safer places for Protestant and Catholic church alike to come and worship, with less fear of government authorities finding out.

However, recently Beijing has begun to crack down on these smaller churches who are not registered with the State Administration for Religious Affairs or the China Christian Council. An increasing number of house churches has been shut down for anything from not complying with fire safety regulations to not meeting the official standards set by the Chinese government.

Despite the fact that religious freedom is acknowledged and guaranteed by article 36 in the Chinese constitution, which states that “citizens of the People’s Republic of China enjoy freedom of religious belief” yet, this is not as good as it sounds. People can enjoy their freedom as long as it does not disrupt social order, undermine one’s physical or public health, obstruct education, and participate in missionary relief or work.

While this presents itself differently, some family churches have claimed that in Beijing they have been told by officials that they should minimize the cross and religious gatherings and focus more on Xi Jinping, the president of China.

In light of the increased crackdown on church gatherings, the international community has stepped up in support of their fellow believers. Christians in Hong Kong, from multiple different denominations drew up petitions in support of the Christians urging Beijing to stop closing churches and cracking down on religious freedoms in the country.

For interviews with Gina Goh, ICC’s Regional Manager, please contact Olivia Miller, Communications Coordinator: