Relaymedia

Chinese House Church Ordered to Stop Meeting, Singing Hymns - Or Face Legal Action

( [email protected] ) Oct 04, 2016 11:16 AM EDT
A house church in China's southwestern Sichuan province was ordered to immediately stop meeting at their building, cease singing hymns and adhere to a list of restrictions - or face severe legal action.
China’s Communist Party says it protects freedom of religion, but it keeps a tight grip on religious activities and allows only officially recognized religious institutions to operate. Reuters

A house church in China's southwestern Sichuan province was ordered to immediately stop meeting at their building, cease singing hymns and adhere to a list of restrictions - or face severe legal action.

According to a report from persecution watchdog China Aid, local authorities delivered a document entitled "Notice of Order to Reform" to church members, declaring that the church violated a number of rules by gathering for religious activities, allowing clerics not officially appointed by the government to preach, and hosting foreign pastors at their location.

If the church continued to gather and failed to stop the activities the government forbids, the bureau threatened to impose administrative penalties.

"Stop admitting Christians...to perform religious activities, such as singing hymns, praying and chanting," reads the order, in part. "Stop allowing non-cleric personnel ... to preach and Christian activities. Stop admitting clerics who come from abroad... to preach and conduct Christian activities."

Zhang Mingxuan, a pastor and president of the Chinese House Church Alliance, told China Aid that the persecution of this house church is symptomatic of a larger operation spreading throughout the country, as a number of other churches have faced harassment from the government due to their religious beliefs.

China's Communist Party says it protects freedom of religion, but it keeps a tight grip on religious activities and allows only officially recognized religious institutions to operate.

In April, President Xi Jinping warned that China must be on guard against foreign infiltration through religion and stop "extremists" spreading their ideology. Reuters notes that the country is primarily concerned about what it sees as the growing influence by Islamists in the Xinjiang region where hundreds of people have been killed over the past few years in violence between members of the Muslim Uighur community and majority Han Chinese.

However, the Communist Party is also suspicious of the influence of Christianity, which is experiencing significant growth in the country.

Over the past year, up to 1,700 churches have been demolished or had their crosses removed in Zhejiang alone province, and a significant number of pastors and human rights lawyers have been arrested and imprisoned.

Nevertheless, China Aid president Bob Fu told The Gospel Herald he is "more optimistic than ever" that the Gospel will continue to impact the country in a tremendous way, citing a Purdue University study that found the country is on course to become the world's "most Christian nation" by 2030.

"While we still feel the pain and suffering of our brothers and sisters in China, we have seen the Good News spark the rapid growth of Christianity," he said. "We have seen a great revival - more and more believers are becoming actively involved. I believe that in the end, the Communist Party will be called the 'Servant of the Lord.'"

Tags : China, China Aid, Christianity, Christian growth in China, Xi Jinping, Communism