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12/23/2021 China (International Christian Concern) – As Christmas is around the corner, the Chinese government is using the pandemic as an excuse to prevent churches from celebrating the holiday.

According to Radio Free Asia, local authorities in Shandong, Anhui, and Guangdong have restricted religious activities during this time. Pastor Chen from a house church in Guangdong told RFA that a local public security officer has already informed his church about the banning of Christmas gathering given the pandemic.

“My hometown does not allow us to gather. It is Christmas, yet we cannot even gather. For instance, in places like Henan, the government uses the pandemic as an excuse, so Christians there can only gather virtually. In-person worship has been banned,” he said.

Another pastor in Shandong also told RFA that the situation there is just like any other cities in China – there is no Christmas nor the atmosphere for celebration. The reality is saddening. According to him, “Before Christmas, [we have been] asked to not have any activities, same with other churches outside. We can only do it secretly.”

A Christian shared that since 2018, Chinese authorities have directed state-owned enterprises and schools to not celebrate Christmas. In recent years, many shops stopped selling Christmas lights and Christmas trees.

Ironically, there are more than 3,000 companies that sell Christmas merchandise in China, with Guangdong, Zhejiang, and Anhui producing the most. While these companies make profits off of these Christmas products, their governments are preventing them from celebrating this so-called “Western holiday.”

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