China: Communist Party places cameras in churches to find and punish those who don’t worship according to its rules

March 28, 2020

Persecution of Christians in China: this article shows yet again that the Chinese government is not just moving against churches and Christian organizations that do not have official government recognition, but is waging all-out war against the Christian faithful, and official recognition from the government is essentially meaningless.

This is a matter of grave concern not only for China’s Catholic and Protestant churches, but for the tiny community of Orthodox Christians in China. The Chinese government has not granted Orthodox Christianity any official status, and in any case, this article makes it clear that official status is no guarantee of protection. The Orthodox churches in China could be closed at any time at the whim of local officials, and Orthodox Christians taken into custody. This is 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.

“Three-Self Churches Under Constant Government Surveillance,” by Li Guang, Bitter Winter, March 25, 2020:

“The church has HD cameras inside and outside: 20 were installed in December, and an additional similar amount recently,” a Three-Self church director in Xinmi, a county-level city under the jurisdiction of Zhengzhou city in the central province of Henan, told Bitter Winter. “Such cameras will be installed in every church throughout the county,” he continued, adding that 15 and seven cameras had been fitted in the churches of Chugou and Litang villages, respectively, both administered by Xinmi’s Chengguan town.

“On top of monitoring if minors or Party members visit churches, the government’s main purpose in installing cameras is to control believers and check on preachers’ sermons,” the director said. “The government seeks to eradicate Christianity gradually.”

According to a Three-Self preacher from Lankao county in Henan’s Kaifeng city, powerful cameras, over 10,000 RMB (about $ 1,400) each, have been installed in at least eight Three-Self churches, images from which are displayed on a large screen in the hall of the county’s Two Chinese Christian Councils. Who leads Sunday services, what sermons are about, and how many congregation members are present—everything is under the government’s close surveillance.

“The surveillance equipment is powerful; it can catch every single word in the church,” a Three-Self church director in Lankao county explained. “We can get into trouble for making an incautious remark. Believers don’t dare to even chitchat with each other under such surveillance.” He once received a phone call from a local official less than one hour after he complained about the government.

In August 2019, over 100 cameras were installed in several Three-Self churches in Yi’nan county in Linyi, a prefecture-level city in the eastern province of Shandong. A local government insider revealed to Bitter Winter that the Religious Affairs Bureau and United Front Work Department use the cameras to monitor activities in churches, and those refusing to have cameras installed would be shut down.

In late July, a Three-Self True Jesus Church preacher from Henan’s Nanyang city was arrested and interrogated after the local police learned that the church’s three cameras, installed by the local Religious Affairs Bureau in the previous month, had been unplugged. Congregation members were unwilling to be continuously surveilled by the CCP.

Such an act is illegal, officers claimed and then confiscated the church’s religious activity venue registration certificate….