Two house churches resist pressure to join government-sanctioned Three-Self Patriotic Movement

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Authorities interrupt house church 
(Photo: China Aid)
China Aid
By Ava Collins

(Xuzhou, Jiangsu—Sept. 1, 2015) Two separate churches in China’s coastal Jiangsu and northeast Liaoning provinces came under pressure from officials in August to join the government-approved Three-Self Patriotic Movement (TSPM). Both churches have refused to join, despite ongoing warnings from authorities.

The Xucheng House Church in Xuzhou, Jiangsu, recently came under scrutiny from local police, who have attempted multiple times to speak with the church’s pastor, Xu Changyong. Xu said that the police warned him that his church’s meeting was illegal so long as it was outside of the TSPM. Xu was a member of the TSPM in his youth but left the organization many years ago.

Local officers also warned Xu about his association with Zhang Mingxuan, the president of the Chinese House Church Alliance. He was ordered not to attend a meeting with Pastor Zhang, who has connections abroad and is known for spreading news of persecution in China to foreign agencies.

Similarly, in Huludao, Liaoning, the China Jesus Christ Church faced demands from both officials and the community to join the TSPM. Yao Chunzhi, the pastor, said she has been contacted by the Longgang District Religious Affairs Bureau many times but will not meet with them.

She also reported that church members have been stopped on the way to their meetings. Local TSPM members attempted to scare churchgoers away from attending before they arrived. Yao said TSPM members often say “their church receives the protection of the law, while our church is subject to government arrest.”

“We see that the TSPM is corrupt,” Yao said. “Their money goes to pastors so they can buy large, multi-story houses. We believe that is not in accordance with God’s commands, so we left that church. We choose to truly worship God in our hearts and keep worshiping him when we go home, but they will not let us meet on our own.”

Pressure to join the TSPM is a challenge faced by many house churches in China. China Aid previously released news of the Zhongfu Tongxin Church in Shantou, Guangdong, which had its doors sealed by officials after refusing to join.

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Rachel Ritchie, English Media Director
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