From Bitter Winter
By Tang Zhe
Crackdown on religion continues to escalate in Jiangxi Province, as numerous house church venues are shut down, some forcibly demolished, their assets looted.
Attempting to implement its plan to eliminate all house churches within two years, the CCP is increasingly mistreating places of worship that refuse to join the state-run Three-Self Church. Going beyond laws and regulations, authorities often designate house churches as xie jiao – a label reserved for outlawed religious groups that are on the list of the xie jiao, and any association with them is punishable according to Article 300 of the Chinese Criminal Code.
As a result of crackdowns, numerous house church meeting venues across the southeastern province of Jiangxi have already ceased functioning.Meeting venue demolished, church assets looted
On July 18, over a dozen police officers and government officials from Wanzai county, under the jurisdiction of Yichun city, stormed into a Sola Fide house church meeting venue. They savagely dismantled an electricity meter, smashed the lock to the main door, and threw all tables and chairs into the courtyard. The venue was ordered to be shut down because it was unlicensed. An excavator was brought the next day to level the church to the ground.
Video: The house church meeting venue in Wanzai county was demolished in July.
Over in Poyang county, it was barely 4 a.m. on March 16, when more than 30 government officials surrounded the residence of a house church preacher. They forcibly entered his home and searched it. Afterward, the officials stormed into the meeting venue where the preacher attends gatherings and looked through the church’s account books. There they found out that the church had collected hundreds of thousands of RMB’s in offering money. The officials threatened to arrest the preacher and demolish the meeting venue if he didn’t tell them where the money was.
According to members of the congregation, everything was looted from the church, including a piano and hundreds of quilts. The church’s preacher was taken to the police station for interrogation. That evening, some government officials put up paper strip seals on the meeting venue’s door on the grounds that it “violated building laws,” leaving believers with nowhere to congregate.
On May 26, a house church in Anyuan county under the jurisdiction of Ganzhou city was ransacked. Everything inside was looted, including Bibles, hymnbooks, tables, and chairs. Four believers, the preacher and the venue’s owner among them, were taken to the local police station for interrogation.Dozens of Local Church meeting venues shut down
According to believers from a church in Jiangxi’s Fuzhou city that is part of the so-called “old Local Church” – a Chinese Christian religious movement in the tradition of Watchman Nee – more than a dozen of the church’s meeting venues were shut down in the city this April.
Three months after one of the meeting venues in Dongxiang district was shut down, local officials tried to coerce the venue’s believers into giving up their faith by threatening to revoke their minimum living subsidy or terminate their employment. They came to the homes of believers and tore up all Christian symbols they found there.
Believers have reported to Bitter Winter that old Local Church meeting venues in other regions have also been harassed and shut down. Among them was a venue in Qianshan village in Shangrao city that was shut down on April 18, after local government officials repeatedly raided and harassed it. “You’re on the land reigned by the Communist Party. If you don’t agree to be controlled by it, you’ll be designated as a xie jiao,” one of the officials told the congregation.
At least ten old Local Church’s meeting venues were shut down in Poyang county. The person in charge of one of them was repeatedly threatened by officials and was forced to sign a commitment statement promising to close the venue. In May, a venue in Nanchang city, with a history spanning 30 years, was forcibly shut down.
“We’ve returned to the days of the Cultural Revolution. All religious people will be persecuted,” commented an elderly believer from the old Local Church.