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China Arrests Pastor for Refusing to Join State-Run Church, Forces Congregation to Disband

( [email protected] ) Feb 24, 2017 01:35 PM EST
Chinese authorities have detained a church's pastor, renovated the building without permission, and harassed its congregants - all because they refused to join the government-run Three-Self Church.
Chinese Christians have faced violent persecution from police raids and arrests in 2015. Reuters

Chinese authorities have detained a church's pastor, renovated the church building without permission, and harassed its congregants - all because they refused to join the government-run Three-Self Church.

Persecution watchdog China Aid reports that during the summer of 2009, the police started to harass members of Shouwang Church in Beijing and demand that they join the Three-Self Church (TSPM).

As reported, once churches join the TSPM, they must accept government supervision and obtain approval from the religious departments before holding any activities. In addition, the TSPM explicitly bans its members from bringing their children up in the Christian faith, labeling the practice "brainwashing.

At the time, the church's pastor, Jin Tianming asserted that they would not join, since TSPM is a liberal political movement that diminishes Christ's divinity, the authority of Holy Scripture, and the concept of justification by faith.

As a result, Shouwang Church members were harassed and evicted from their building, forcing them to worship outdoors. Because he refused to bow to authorities' demands, Jin was placed under house arrest. While congregants worshipped outdoors, authorities approached them, and offered to free Jin if they stopped gathering outside, but Jin encouraged church members not to take the deal on his behalf.

Now, the church dares to only meet in small groups in individual houses, and they still fear that these meetings will be banned, and Jin remains under constant surveillance.

"Jin Tianming is still under house arrest and is only allowed two hours of personal time each day, and his wife is not allowed to leave the house on Sunday," reads the China Aid report. "Their home is closely guarded by three government agents at all times, and he is only allowed to receive visitors at 4 or 5 p.m."

In addition, the developer from whom Shouwang Church purchased their church's building violated his contract by renovating it without their permission. Since they bought the property, its value has doubled, and the church members fear the developer might have other uses planned for it.

China is ranked 39th on Open Door USA's World Watch List of 50 countries where Christians face the most persecution: "As Christians are the largest social force in China not controlled by the Communist Party," Open Doors noted in its 2017 report, "there are increasing efforts to bring them under state control."

Recently, the Communist government arrested four South Korean Christian missionaries and expelled at least 32 more after carrying out a series of police raids on churches, according to reports. The missionaries had been working in the northeast Yanji region of the country for decades, providing assistance to fugitives fleeing North Korea.

Tags : China, China Aid, Persecution, church, Asia, Christian growth, Pastor, arrest