Gansu government orders churches to close

Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Seals such as this one are
sometimes placed on church
doors once authorities order
the church to stop gathering.
(Photo: ChinaAid)

(Lanzhou, Gansu—Aug. 21, 2018) A church in China’s north-central Gansu province received a notice from the Xigu District Ethnic and Religious Affairs Bureau on Aug. 17, ordering them to close.

Shocked, the church members started fasting and praying the next day. Gao Songmin, the church’s leader, released an open letter stating that the religious affairs bureau maintained that no church should hold worship services if its venue was not approved after China’s new Regulations on Religious Affairs went into effect on Feb. 1. Four months later, the authorities issued the Measures for the Administration of Examination and Approval of Temporary Venues for Religious Events, which specified that county level religious affairs bureaus can designate buildings as temporary venues based on requests based on representatives of religious citizens if they often need to organize religious events but are unqualified to apply for a venue.

A local, anonymous Christian said that this church already closed. “Another three or four churches located in the urban area have been cracked down on, so they have to gather secretly.”

However, the Gao’s letter says that the Bible tells Christians not to cease gathering, so the church applied to become a temporary venue at the religious department. In the past, the church has cooperated with the government by attending officially organized events held by the neighborhood committee, including fire prevention and law study. They also hosted public services and gatherings and participated in social welfare activities during the past four years. In addition, their right to religious freedom is enshrined in Article 36 of the Chinese Constitution.

As a result, the church said the religious department’s attempt to crackdown on the church would harm its harmonious relationship with the state and hurt religious people, and Gao called on the Xigu District Religious affairs Bureau to fulfill its responsibility to safeguard citizens’ religious freedom and maintain religious harmony. At the same time, he said that the church is willing to suffer for the sake of their beliefs and would not fear violence or insult.

The church also invites other Christians to join them in the fasting and praying.

ChinaAid exposes abuses, such as those committed in Gansu province, in order to stand in solidarity with persecuted Christians and promote religious freedom, human rights, and rule of law.

ChinaAid Media Team
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