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China: Province offers cash rewards to modern-day Judases who report on “those who establish religious places without authorization”

This article notes that “in all likelihood, the push to get people to snitch on each will especially affect underground Protestant communities, who are strongly rooted in Guangdong.” However, Catholics are “certain that the new measures will be applied to all religions, not only in Guangzhou but throughout the country.” This is a matter of grave concern also for the tiny community of Orthodox Christians in China, as the Chinese government has not granted Orthodox Christianity any official status. Thus 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.

“Guangzhou to encourage modern-day Judas with cash rewards for people to report on house churches,” by Wang Zhicheng, Asia News, March 29, 2019:

Guangzhou (AsiaNews) – The Bureau of Ethnic and Religious Affairs in Guangzhou issued some “measures” on 20 March offering incentives and cash prizes to anyone who reports on “illegal religious activities” in the city, such as underground community meetings, catechism, or interactions with foreign religious personnel.

Cash prizes vary – 3,000, 5,000 and 10,000 yuan (US$ 450, US$ 750, US,500) – depending on the scale, details and importance of the report.

“The authorities could not have picked a better time, just before Easter to introduce these measures,” a local priest told AsiaNews. “At this time, we often meditate on the passion of Jesus and Judas’ treachery for 30 pieces of silver. The Guangzhou government wants to turn people into many mini Judas.”

In all likelihood, the push to get people to snitch on each will especially affect underground Protestant communities, who are strongly rooted in Guangdong. Last December, the authorities shut down a local church, 5,000-member Rongguili Church; yet, Christians continue to meet and pray in private homes.

According to some Catholics, it is certain that the new measures will be applied to all religions, not only in Guangzhou but throughout the country.

In February 2018, the government adopted new regulations on religious activities that provide for fines and arrests for people, along with the seizure of buildings where “illegal religious activities” take place, i.e. not under the control of the Religious Affairs Office and local patriotic associations.

With the new measures, the authorities now have a wider array of means, such as recruiting neighbours, colleagues, and casual observers to spy. “Now here in China we live in a Big Brother atmosphere,” said one newly baptised woman…

Certain people and religious activities are listed as dangerous such as “those who establish religious places without authorisation; non-religious groups; non-religious institutions; non-religious places, temporary places of worship, religious activities and religious donations.” This goes on to include “organising unauthorised religious courses, conferences, unauthorised pilgrimages.”

Under the new regulations, teaching catechism to one’s children at home becomes an offence since young people under the age of 18 are not allowed to take part in the Mass or catechism.

Rewards follow. Those who supply only “clues” can expect 1,000 to 3,000 yuan; those who “provide evidence against foreign illegal religious organisations and the people involved” can get 3,000 to 5,000 yuan; those who “provide evidence and help in the investigation leading to the arrest of the leaders responsible for illegal foreign religious organisations” can receive 5,000 to 10,000 yuan….

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