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Chinese churches ‘more careful who they allow in’ as government raids increase

Holy Orthodoxy has a three-hundred year history in China, with the first Orthodox Christians coming into the country in 1685. The Church grew slowly and steadily there, but was almost wiped out during the Cultural Revolution of the 1960s. In the 1980s, however, the Chinese Orthodox Church began to experience a revival. The story below concerns evangelical Protestant churches, but the Chinese Orthodox Church is also in a difficult position, as it is not one of the Christian groups recognized by the Chinese government. Chinese authorities state as their reason for this that they fear “outside interference” entering the country via the Church, but this lack of recognition leaves Orthodox Christians in China vulnerable. The Order of Saint Andrew, Archons of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, requests that the Chinese government grant official recognition to the Chinese Orthodox Church, and full religious freedom to all the Christians of that venerable land.

“Chinese churches ‘more careful who they allow in’, as raids increase,” World Watch Monitor, July 26, 2018:

Churches in China are becoming more careful over who they let in to their buildings, as government pressure increases following the implementation of new religious regulations earlier this year.

Local authorities have been pressured to take action. In Guangzhou, for example, the capital of the southern province Guangdong, a local source told World Watch Monitor the authorities are “trying to stir up the larger more influential churches to see what reaction they will get from the people”.

As a result “churches have become more careful in who they allow in”, the source said. “Newcomers are first questioned by the pastor.”

The government is especially wary of “high profile” churches that have access to international networks, draw crowds of people and are very active.

“Churches that hold meetings in commercial buildings are targeted,” the source said. “The authorities close church venues and more landlords refuse to continue rental contracts with churches. Hence, these local churches are forced to return to house meetings.”

Lacking a place to meet, many churches have split into smaller groups. A girl in the Panyu district of Guangzhou told World Watch Monitor that she now attends two different meetings – one small and one larger – which she visits on alternate weeks to make it more difficult for the government to keep track of her movements.

Ongoing harassment

Two weeks ago, the Bible Reformed Church in Guangzhou was forced to stop its meeting for a third time in a month following a police raid, during which a number of Christians were arrested for questioning.

“We had just begun [the service] when 30-40 personnel from the State Food and Drug Administration, the cultural law enforcement brigade, as well as the police, came and raided the venue where we gather,” Pastor Huang Xiaoning told China Aid. “We had to stop our worship. Now, I have to go with them. People from the religious affairs bureau found me to question me.”

That same day local authorities had sent a notice ordering the church to stop its activities, having already issued previous notices to “stop illegal education”. The church was also fined 50,000 yuan (US $7,500) by the local religious affairs bureau.

“This is a new approach,” said World Watch Monitor’s source. “The local government is no longer demanding churches to register but chooses instead to issue a fine.”…

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