Changsha church harassed repeatedly



Friday, November 9, 2018

Authorities raid a church in China's
Guizhou province. Churches such as
this one are often persecuted by the
Chinese state.
(Photo: China
ChinaAid

(Changsha, Hunan—Nov. 9, 2018) Authorities in China’s southern Hunan province repeatedly harassed a local church, interrupting services and questioning the pastor about a joint letter.

The joint letter called on authorities to stop persecuting churches, stating that many churches have had their crosses demolished and were forced to hang the national flag and sing praises to the Communist Party. The statement also emphasizes that the Christians plan to adhere to the separation of church and state and stand firm in their belief that Christ is in charge of the church.

On Oct. 28, more than 20 police officers and community officials went to Huoxing Church, located in Changsha, Hunan, after the Christians had left the Sunday service. When the church members returned to the church later that night, they found that a sign on the door was destroyed.

Three days later, the staff of the National Religious Affairs Bureau and the local national security force returned to the church and insisted on meeting with its pastor, Zhang Ganghua. They spoke with him for nearly four hours, questioning his beliefs and asking him in detail about his signing of the joint letter. They asked if he still agreed with its contents, and said he now had an opportunity to say he disagreed with its contents, but Zhang replied, “I will not change my position.”

The officials then warned him that if the church does not join the Three Self Patriotic Movement (TSPM), one of two official Christian organizations overseen by the Chinese government, it will be considered illegal and banned. Churches belonging to the TSPM must submit their sermons to the authorities for censoring, are often monitored by officials, and are forced to preach Chinese propaganda. As a result, many churches refuse to join.

After the authorities left, church attendees discovered that the lock on one of the church’s doors had been broken, and they had to replace it. The next evening, two locks were damaged. When they reported this incident to the police, they were told that the officers had “no solution,” and the police station recommended that they contact the landlord and property management to solve the problem.

Last Sunday night, many officials pounded on the church’s door and, when prompted to show their identification, refused. Because the Christians could not confirm their identities, they refused to let them in. When the service ended and the congregants opened the doors to leave, five policemen seized the opportunity to enter.

A Christian said, “They asked us what we were doing there. They asked us to show our identification cards. We also asked them to show their identification cards and to present the legal basis for checking ours. They refused and insisted that the police have the right to check identification cards at any time.”

The confrontation lasted about 30 minutes. During that time, the police tried to physically take one man away, saying they were going to check his identification, but Christians pulled him back. The police left at about 10:00 p.m.

On Monday, some of the church’s locks were damaged again, and the church once again informed the police, who asked them to come to the station and report it.

In response to this harassment, the church released a statement, saying that their right to public worship is “authorized by God in the Bible and granted by the [Chinese] Constitution to its citizens” and urged other churches to pray for China and its persecuted churches.

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

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