Three more Guangzhou churches and three Christian schools shut down by authoritiesFriday, July 10, 2015
(Guangzhou, Guangdong—July 10, 2015) Three more churches in the southern city of Guangzhou have been shut down by local authorities in recent months, as well as three Christian schools, raising concerns about whether students will be able to resume their education in the fall.
|Shunchang students in Fuyang, Anhui Province chip away at artwork |
on ruins left after the school was demolished. (China Aid Stock Photo)
The three schools are a kindergarten, an elementary school, and a middle and high school, according to Ma Chao, who heads up Guangzhou’s Guangfu Church, which has been the target of a government crackdown since May 4. Two of the schools are in Guangzhou’s Panyu district and the third in Baiyun district.
The closures were ordered by the local public security bureaus and religious affairs bureaus, who accused the churches and Christian schools of “setting up sites for illegal religious activities without permission.”
The Fudi Church, which has 200-300 members, was ordered closed around the same time as the Guangfu Church. It meets in the same building in Baiyun district as the Faith, Hope and Love Church. The Meixin Church meets in Tianhe district and is led by Pastor Cao Wen, according to Ma.
Unlike Ma's Guangfu Church, which is suing the local religious affairs bureau and other Baiyun district governmental departments, the other churches are afraid to speak to reporters about their situation and are adopting a conciliatory attitude toward the government, Ma said.
All three of the schools that were shut down were founded by Chinese citizens, from Hainan, Fujian and Yunnan provinces, respectively. Their enrollment ranged from 60 to more than 100 students. Ma said all three schools were ordered closed the same day in May that his church was ordered closed.
A Christian school established by foreigners that enrolls only foreign students and that operates with a license has also been forced to close although it had not been publicly ordered to do so by the local government. However, the landlord unilaterally terminated the school’s lease, likely due to government pressure. The school had just spent millions of yuan on renovations, according to Ma.
Ma said his child was attending the kindergarten that was closed down and that “there’s no guarantee of classes resuming in September.”
A joint law enforcement team from the bureau of education, the fire department, a neighborhood committee and the public security bureau inspected one of the schools in Panyu district, saying they were responding to a report that it was engaging in religious activities.
The law enforcement team first ordered the kitchen sealed because it had no license, and then stated that the premises was registered with the bureau of education as a training center and permitted to provide extracurricular tutoring. The authorities stated that holding full-day classes was considered outside the scope of their license to operate a training center, Ma said. Furthermore, teaching religion to students is illegal in China, explained the authorities.
Ma explained that the schools followed the U.S. educational system for guidance.
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