BEIJING – Christians in China are learning what it means to fight against principalities, powers, and the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. (See Ephesians 6:12) The Chinese government is continuing its concerted efforts to shut down all forms of Christian worship. Missions Box has been publishing news about the increased intolerance for Christianity and the preaching of the Gospel in China. In July 2018, we reported that China Closed Beijing’s Largest House Church. In December, we shared a report on the arrest of Pastor Wang Yi and many of his parishioners at the Early Rain Covenant Church in Szechuan. Last month, we shared the news that the First Commandment is now illegal in China. The Chinese Communist Party began removing crosses from churches over the past year. The CCP is now clamping down on churches by bringing pressure to bear upon them through surveillance, control of church finances, and citizen reporting of illegal religious activities.
The Churches’ Choice
The CCP has demanded that churches – including house churches – register with the government or face forced closure. Registering requires allegiance to the Three-Self movement, the foundational element of the government’s Sinicization of churches. Those who expected that becoming a Three-Self church would stop government harassment have been sorely surprised.
Three-Self churches are now subject to video surveillance both outside and inside their facilities. One church south of Shanghai reports 10 surveillance cameras installed at 10 strategic locations, including facing the pulpit, the offering box, meeting rooms, and the entrance.
One Chinese pastor explained that “It is obvious why [the surveillance cameras] are aimed at the podium: to monitor the content of sermons. The cameras at the entrance are for monitoring believers. The cameras aimed at the donation box are to control the church’s finances.”
Speaking of church finances, all monies donated to churches must now be deposited in special bank accounts that are monitored, supervised, and managed by the government.
All income, expenditures, and budgets must now be reported to the Religious Affairs Bureau. “Even when repairing a window, the church has to go to the Religious Affairs Bureau to submit an expense report and apply for permission. The church can only use this money after receiving approval from the Religious Affairs Bureau.”
Adding to the already stressed budgets of Christian churches, the government has also been imposing various and sundry fees, including the registration fee, a banking fee, and a sanitation inspection fee, to name a few.
China Aid published a copy of the official document that calls upon Chinese citizens “to aggressively monitor and report any illegal religious activities” to a government-provided hotline. Rewards will be granted to reports determined to be factual.
The document reads, in part, “People conducting or participating in illegal religious activities shall be investigated. If the violation is severe, the public security department will impose a severe penalty.” Another line in the document indicates that even people writing Lunar New Year couplets that include religious ideology “will be stopped immediately and be seriously educated.”
We need to be upholding our Chinese Christian brothers and sisters in prayer. Pray that they will stand for Jesus Christ, and having done all, will continue to stand.
To read more news on China on Missions Box, go here.
- Bitter Winter, Control the Money, Control the Church
- China Aid, Government office establishes a hotline, offers cash prizes for reporting ‘illegal religious activities
- Iampinaki [CC BY-SA 3.0], from Wikimedia Commons