China: 48 State-Run Churches Shut Down in One County in Two Weeks

June 3, 2020

Persecution of Christians in China: This is part of the Chinese government’s ongoing attempt to create a “religion with Chinese characteristics.” This endeavor is a matter of grave concern also for the tiny community of Orthodox Christians in China. The Chinese government has not granted Orthodox Christianity any official status, and is clearly trying to remake Christianity in general into a pliant tool of the Communist Party. The Orthodox churches in China could be closed at any time at the whim of local officials, and Orthodox Christians taken into custody.

China offers yet another instance of the persecution of Christians by governing officials that is unfortunately on the increase not only in China, but in all too many other nations around the world.

For previous coverage of the persecution of Christians in China, see here.

“48 State-Run Churches Shut Down in One County in Two Weeks,” by Tang Zhe, Bitter Winter, May 31, 2020:

Since the coronavirus lockdown measures were eased, local governments throughout the southeastern province of Jiangxi started intensifying efforts to suppress places of worship. In April, countless churches in Jiujiang, Fuzhou, Fengcheng, Shangrao, and other cities in the province were ordered to remove their crosses. Some of them were cleared out and shut down, while others were even demolished.

Yugan county, administered by Shangrao city, has over one million residents, more than ten percent of whom are Protestants, who attend over 300 officially registered Three-Self churches. Because of this considerably large number of believers, the county has become one of the key targets of the CCP’s religious persecution. According to reports, between April 18 and 30, at least 48 Three-Self churches and meeting venues were shut down in Yugan county.

In late April, the government of Shegeng town ordered to empty a local Three-Self church forcibly. One of its congregation members told Bitter Winter that government personnel, led by the town mayor, stormed into the church, removed its podium, cross, and all other religious symbols. Seeing the church’s valuables destroyed, some congregation members wept in distress.

“Ever since the central religious supervision team was stationed in Yugan county, officials of all government levels don’t dare to relax,” the believer said. “Whether they demolish a church or a cross, everyone is afraid to challenge them. If you try to protest, they will accuse you of fighting against the Communist Party and the central government.”

In mid-April, the government of Yugan’s Yangbu town demolished the cross of a Three-Self church. A local believer told Bitter Winter that the government has plans to convert the 300-square-meter church into an elderly activity center.

On April 21, a village Party secretary in Yugan’s Daxi township told local believers that it was one of the state’s policies to shut down churches and demolish crosses. “Higher echelons of government declared after an inspection that there were too many believers in the county,” he said. “When so many believe in God, who will listen to the Communist Party? There is no other choice but to remove crosses from your churches.”…

“The government does not allow us to believe in God,” a local believer commented. “Xi Jinping follows the path of Mao Zedong, who cracked down on all religious beliefs and killed people of faith. If you refuse to obey the president who orders you not to attend religious meetings, you’ll be arrested and imprisoned.”