China Bans Historic Church in Xiamen
Church Members Banned from Entering Property
05/24/2019 Washington D.C. (International Christian Concern) – International Christian Concern (ICC) has learned that on May 19, more than 70 officials from China’s southeastern Fujian Province were dispatched to shut down a house church in Xiamen. Xunsiding Church, a house of worship with over four decades of history, received an administrative penalty notice after the officials inspected the church. The church also received a fine of 25,000 yuan (approximately USD $3,600).
The church also serves as the residence of its preacher, Yang Xibo. The Siming District Ethnic and Religious Affairs Bureau issued the notice to accuse Yang of running the church without approval, therefore violating China’s Regulations on Religious Affairs.
Yang was granted the right to appeal within three days of receiving the notice. He told persecution watchdog group China Aid, “We will file an appeal, as the government will have to hold a hearing with regards to this matter. We will insist on following legal procedures in the future.”
Beginning on May 19, local authorities have stationed themselves at the entrance of the church, turning away church members who wish to enter the church, while recording their personal information. On May 21, choir members were again blocked by a police-formed human chain when they attempted to enter the church for practice.
This was not the first time that the church has been targeted by the government. Last May, the church-run kindergarten was ordered to close. On January 14, 2019, the church and the kindergarten were raided simultaneously, and the school was demolished.
In an effort to eliminate house churches and force them to join state-sanctioned churches, Beijing has initiated a new campaign against house churches called “Return to Zero.” The aim is to “dismantle the scale [of churches], dissolve the organization, and dismiss the church.” As a result, an increasing number of house churches across the country are falling victim to this campaign.
Gina Goh, ICC’s Regional Manager, said, “We are deeply concerned that the unprecedented crackdown against house churches continues to escalate under the leadership of President Xi Jinping. The international community should condemn China for its repeated violation of religious freedom, which ironically is enshrined in China’s constitution.”
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