Beijing officials intensify suppression of prominent house church



Wednesday, May 2, 2018

Zion Church members study
the Bible. (Photo: ChinaAid)
ChinaAid

Updated: 5/9/2018, 10:31 a.m. Added further information about events before the installation.

(Beijing—May 2, 2018) The persecution of an unregistered house church in Beijing continues to escalate since the government forced them to install surveillance cameras inside and out on April 16, causing many of its members to feel uneasy.

In the past week, police, civil servants, and other government agents have called and spied on Christians who attend the church, known as Zion Church. The officials questioned their relationship with the church, investigated their housing situations, and reviewed their ID cards, occupations, and details about their families.

Attempting to calm the nerves of their parishioners, the church issued a brief announcement on April 24, including some laws and regulations that safeguard religious freedom. They encouraged the church members to familiarize themselves with knowledge of the law, including who can investigate them and why so that they know of their rights to decline or cooperate with law enforcement officials and know to ask for official documents and receipts issued by police.

In the announcement, the church also quoted Article 36 of China’s Constitution, saying, “Citizens have the right to freedom of religion.” They promised that they will follow every reasonable and lawful means to safeguard congregants’ rights, maintain their safety, and support them according to the Bible and the Constitution.

The church also used the announcement to encourage the Christians: “May God help us be strong and courageous, and may God grant us strength and faith, we are bold to testify to the Gospel (Philippians 1:7, Acts 26:1-29) and love, pray, and care for each other (Hebrews 10:24).”

Prior to the installation, on April 16, the church’s water and electricity were cut off, and their elevator was taken out of service, because the church was resisting the installation of the cameras. They sent out an urgent prayer request asking for support as they lost amenities.

Zion Church’s pastor Guo Xijun said that the government’s purpose in installing the cameras was evil. “This is an extremist act by authorities who do not control their power. The rationale is to intimidate and dominate. Some Christians said that we need neither worry nor fear. True, we fear nothing because we have already committed our lives to the Lord. Nevertheless, if we obey the notorious evil without thinking and seeking God’s wisdom, it would be dangerous and irresponsible.”

Since its founding in 2007, Zion Church has rapidly developed and now serves 1,000 congregants in multiple languages. It is one of China’s thousands of unregistered “house churches,” who forego the relative safety of being run by the government in order to avoid censorship. According to a report, Beijing authorities have harassed Zion Church members beyond what they can stand and have severely repressed the church, leading some to speculate that the government’s plan is to sabotage Beijing’s house churches.

ChinaAid exposes abuses, such as those suffered by the members of Zion Church, in order to stand in solidarity with persecuted Christians and promote religious freedom, human rights, and rule of law.


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