The new laws will put the state firmly in charge, giving the Communist Party the ability to hire and fire church leaders and change religious doctrine to make it more Chinese.
That means churchgoers will have to pledge loyalty to the Communist Party first, which Pastor Wang says cannot be done.
China’s governing Communist Party is set to launch a nationwide crackdown on Christianity. Correspondent Matthew Carney travels through the country and speaks to churchgoers who are worried they could soon be arrested.
The Communist Party has just enacted much tougher laws that criminalise Christians if they do not pledge loyalty to the state.
Chinese President Xi Jinping has warned that all religions now have to become “Chinese” and the new laws will attempt to bring churchgoers and their leaders under party control. READ MORE
A look at the state of the religion in the U.S., Europe, and the world.
Two members of a church demolition team in China’s central Henan province buried alive Li Jiangong, a house church leader and his wife Ding Cuimei. On Thursday, April 14th a government-backed company dispatched personnel to bulldoze Beitou Church in Zhumadian, Henan province, after a local developer wished to take control of the church’s valuable property. The couple and stepped in front of the machinery trying to prevent the destruction of their church.
Referring to the couple, a demolition team member was reported by China Aid as saying, “Bury them alive for me,“I will be responsible for their lives” Subsequently, a bulldozer pushed the couple into a pit and covered their bodies with soil. The Li was able to dig his way free, but sadly his wife suffocated by the time she was freed.
Li himself reported that police took an uncommonly long time to arrive at the scene after a report of the murder was filed.
On April 17, a China Aid reporter conducted a phone interview with an officer from the local police station, who stated that two of the demolition team are currently being detained while a criminal investigation team reviews their case. The officer did not reveal the criminal charges against the workers.
Please pray the our brothers and sisters in China.
Accurate figures are hard to come by, but this past Easter as many as 100 million Christians will celebrate across China.
But with congregation numbers still on the rise, the authorities it seems are keen to tighten their control.
A leading pastor in an eastern Chinese province where authorities have been cracking down on churches has been barred from the pulpit and removed as head of the provincial state-sanctioned Protestant church association.
Monday’s action in Zhejiang province against Joseph Gu Yuese followed his arrest last month on charges of embezzlement and other economic crimes.
Supporters say the case against Gu was drummed up in retribution for his public opposition to a campaign by Zhejiang officials to forcibly remove hundreds of rooftop crosses from churches. Read More
Officials seek to silence, neutralize advocates for freedom of religion/speech.
(Morning Star News) A Christian activist writing against harassment of churches in China’s Zhejiang Province was temporarily detained and threatened this month, and an attorney representing some of the fellowships remains missing.
The detentions are the latest signs of a government crackdown on at least 230 human rights lawyers and activists since July.
China’s National Security Bureau on Nov. 3 raided the home of writer Zan Aizong, who had been blogging on violations of religious freedom and the destruction of crosses on church buildings in Zhejiang Province that officials have undertaken since last year, according to the South China Morning Post. Authorities accused Zan of inciting subversion of national security, and they threatened and intimidated him before he was released.
Zan said he was prohibited from speaking or posting online, and his computer and cell phone were confiscated among other items, SCMP reported.
“I would like to thank Jesus Christ for His grace and help,” Zan said, according to advocacy group China Aid Association.
At the same time, a Christian attorney for churches in Zhejiang, Zhang Kai, has not been seen since Aug. 25, according to Elizabeth Kendal of the Religious Liberty Prayer Bulletin (RLPB). Chinese security forces seized Zhang in Wenzhou on Aug. 25, along with assistant Liu Peng and several area pastors.
Zhang, 37, had taken up residence in a Wenzhou church building for a year in order to help the legal cases of area fellowships whose church buildings or crosses had been destroyed. Officials cited church violations of zoning rules, while pastors and advocates asserted that the government only sought to diminish the churches’ effectiveness.
Yang Xinquan, Zhang’s employer, told The New York Times that police and Christian sources indicated that Zhang could be held in secretive detention for six months, charged with threatening state security and “assembling a crowd to disrupt social order.” Yang said Zhang was advising a church in Wenzhou when police took him away, and that assistant Liu and another legal worker, Fang Xiangui, were also likely being held in secret in Wenzhou, according to the Times.
Zhang is one of an estimated 230 lawyers and activists that have been detained, with 26 still being held, according to Amnesty International. He was first detained in Wenzhou by state security police late at night on July 10, according to Hong Kong-based Initium Media. One of Initium’s correspondents reported Zhang telling him earlier that day, “Christianity teaches us to submit. But what we ought to submit to is the constitution and morality, not to illegal people and conduct.”
Following his release after a night of interrogation, Zhang later told the reporter in an interview that public security officials warned him to stop working on church cases and holding legal seminars
Advocates fear for Zhang’s health and safety. Prominent human rights attorney Gao Zhisheng was released on Aug. 7, 2014, after months of isolation and torture left him physically disabled and unable to speak coherently.
Zhang had represented Pastor Huang Yizi of Salvation Church in Wenzhou. Supporters put up resistance to a government attempt to remove the church’s cross last year that resulted in injuries, and Pastor Huang was ultimately sentenced to jail for “gathering a crowd to disturb social order,” Initium reported.
Identifying and documenting various procedural illegalities in the way the government harassed the Wenzhou churches, Zhang left government officials enraged and legally defeated, according to Initium. Authorities offered to free the then yet to be prosecuted Pastor Huang if Zhang would cease representing him, but when Zhang recused himself, officials reneged and sentenced the pastor to a year in prison, Initium reported.
Zhang organized a group of 30 attorneys from throughout China to take up church cases in Zhejiang Province. He also wrote a number of articles and Web posts.
Initium reported Zhang saying, “Lawyers can’t necessarily prevent the crosses being removed, but at least they can expose the illegal nature of the exercise. Even if they were constructed against regulations, there should be a reasonable and legal process to remove them. Otherwise, where’s the legality?”
By Rachel Ritchie
Huang Quirui was detained by Liuzhou police from his home in Guangzhou, Guangdong, on June 24, 2014, for “illegal business operations.” Huang is alleged to have been in charge of shipping textbooks published by the Hualin Foreign Language Experimental Kindergarten of Liuzhou, which was established by Liangren Church of Guangzhou, where Huang is a church elder.
Huang is one of four detainees who is currently being tried for his involvement with the character-improvement books compiled by the church, which authorities claim are illegal.
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ:
Peace be with you!
I’m Huang Qiurui, an elder at Liangren Church; let me give my sincere greeting to all of you in the Lord Jesus Christ. May our supreme father endow you with grace and peace.
I miss you very much and I remember you all in my daily prayers. On every Sunday, my heart is with you, and together we worship the lamb who sits on the throne.
Be thankful for the blessings from our heavenly father who endows you with confidence, hope, and a loving heart that make you stand firm with the help of the Lord.
“We have come to share in Christ, if indeed we hold our original conviction firmly to the very end.” (Hebrews 3:14)
“…And we are his house, if indeed we hold firmly to our confidence and the hope in which we glory.” (Hebrews 3:6)
In the house of God, there is a group of people who continuously have conviction. In the house of God, there is a group of people with confidence and hope. Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, you are such a group of people!
May God bless you!
My dear brothers and sisters, I miss so much: You are my joy and my royal crown. Amen!
At the end of June last year, I suddenly was forced to leave you all. Little did I know that I would still not go back to you after seven months had passed. Starting at the end of the first month, I thought I should be able to go back to you. However, the fact I’m facing is disappointing. On every day and night in these past seven months, I’ve felt as if I were taking a walk with a snail and time were elapsing very slowly. However, I’ve felt an urgency in my heart to see you all. May God show mercy to me and let me be released as soon as possible.
From the appearance, it seems that I was arrested this time because I participated in the publishing of an illegal religious publication. However, the police found later that they don’t have sufficient evidence to support this charge, and there is no way they can prove I have violated the law. Now, I’ve come to see more and more clearly the intention of the law enforcement agency. They want to use this opportunity to undermine my church life and my ministry. I have already written my defense opinions. Tomorrow, I will argue based on reason in court in the hope that I can be acquitted and released thanks to the “rule of the country according to law,” which is expounded these days.
In the past decades, persecution incidents in China like this are not new. Spiritually speaking, it’s an attack by the devil against the church and is a popular trick used by Satan.
Certainly, suffering is beneficial to me! God is testing me and molding me through tribulation. He wants to mold me into a useful instrument. I have learned many lessons in this tribulation. Wait until I am released so that I can share with you one lesson after another. In 2014, the vision of Liangren Church was a year of growth. Some people have grown and others have been grown. I belong to the latter. The vision I have for 2015 is to “follow the Lord.” Let me share this vision with you. If you are moved, you can also regard this as your vision.
Jesus said: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will save it.” (Luke 9:23-24). I think a true follower must sacrifice himself or herself, do it every day, and carry the cross. I advise you to work with me and learn to be a true Jesus follower. Therefore, we should exhibit “mutual affection… For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.” (2 Peter 3:7-8) For if you exhibit love for our fellow people, “you will receive a rich welcome into the eternal Kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.” (2 Peter 3:11)
Implore God to increase His blessings so that more people are selected to go and serve the Lord and share the ministry in the church. Please also pray for me so that I can go back to you as soon as possible.
May our heavenly father’s love, Christ’s grace, and the moving of the Holy Spirit be with you! Amen!
Recently, the hymns I often sing are “The Lord, I’m in Front of You,” “Molding Me,” “The Conveyer of Cross,” and “I Don’t Leave or Abandon Your Love.” I hope you also like them.
January 15, 2015