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House churches in three Chinese provinces ordered to shut down

East Asia

House churches in three Chinese provinces ordered to shut down

A cross is shown on the roof of a Protestant church in China’s Zhejiang province. Photo Credit: Radio Free Asia – courtesy of a church member

Authorities in three Chinese provinces issued a notice to house churches to shut down in early May 2018, ordering their congregations to join official, state-supervised churches.

A written notice was issued to a house church in Nanping, Fujian province. The church has a regular congregation of between 20 to 30 members. “The persecution has escalated. The Communist Party members, civil servants, and teachers are not allowed to have religious beliefs. The [city] government of Nanping is investigating local house churches and recording the personal information of the Christians”, said one local Christian.

On 13 May, local officials in Dafang, Guizhou province, ordered a house church leader to stop all future gatherings, claiming he had set up a religious venue, in breach of Religious Affairs Regulations. He also received a written notice, stating he was to “Stop all religious activities at the religious venue you set up on your own.”

The church leader replied to the notice, stating, “I am a Christian. I only worship at my own house, and I have never established any religious venues on my own. I did nothing illegal.”

A house church with more than 200 members in Jiangxi province was also ordered to shut down. At the time of writing, the church is continuing to meet, despite threats from the authorities.

Millions of Chinese Christians are part of a vibrant unregistered “house church” movement, regarded by authorities as a threat to the avowedly Communist state.