Since April of 2018, Zion Church in Beijing has denied the Chinese government’s orders to install closed-circuit surveillance cameras, CCTV, in its sanctuary. In August of this year, Communist officials threatened to shutter the church, with more than 1,500 members, as a result. On September 9, 2018, they made good on their promise when an estimated 70 officers bombarded the place of worship. After ordering everyone to vacate the premises, they tore down signs and the church’s logo.
Zion Church was “legally banned.” The officers also confiscated “illegal promotional material,” most likely Bibles. Immediately after the raid, the building was kept under intense security. People without business in the area were not allowed to enter the compound. After destroying Zion Church, the Chinese government sent its pastor, Jin Mingri, a bill for 1.2 million yuan, or approximately $170,000. The bill included 800,000 yuan for back rent, 114,000 yuan for moving fees, and 55,000 yuan for overtime pay to 55 “property workers.”
Before being forcibly shut down, Zion Church had been one of China’s largest unofficial Protestant congregations. Regarding the current plight of Christianity in China, Pastor Mingri stated, “Before, as long as you didn’t meddle in politics, the government left you alone. But now, if you don’t push the communist party line, if you don’t display your love for the party, you are a target.”
“Of course we’re scared,” he continued. “We’re in China, but we have Jesus…Not only did they not negotiate with us before moving our things, there’s no reason in asking us to pay this exorbitant moving cost.”
Pastor Mingri went on to say his congregation couldn’t possibly pay the fees the Chinese government has charged them. He claimed the rent had been paid long before the abrupt closing of his church. The minister also revealed that the authorities had tripled the rental amount on the expenses list. Notably, Pastor Mingri was one of approximately 200 clergy from underground churches who wrote their names on a petition asserting “assault and obstruction” by the Chinese government. The petition was signed after tighter regulations on religious activities were mandated earlier this year, which included the aforementioned installation of CCTV in places of worship. The alleged “assault and obstruction” mentioned in the petition comprised things such as the demolition of crosses.
China’s Communist leaders have recently ordered the “sinicization” of religious activities. Government officials want to bring them in line with “traditional” Chinese culture and values. Christians in the Communist country typically either attend unofficial “underground” or “house” places of worship, such as Zion Church, or state-sanctioned ones where Communist Party songs are sang during services. Pastor Mingri revealed that members of his congregation have started meeting in homes and parks. He stated, “I get followed around by three cars everywhere I go now, which can be troublesome to others. So I spend most of my time at home, it’s better this way, it’s a test of faith.”
Sadly, what happened to Zion Church isn’t an isolated incident in Communist China. According to Faithwire, government officials destroyed Christian imagery of Jesus at Our Lady of Mount Carmel located in China’s Henan province in June of 2018. Since the early 20th century, Our Lady of Mount Carmel has been a popular pilgrimage for Chinese Catholics. During a government raid in May of 2018, more than 1,000 Chinese Bibles were confiscated from five house places of worship in the Shandong province.
Indefensibly, the officials claimed the invasion was made to suppress the spread of pornography in China. In July of this year, the Communist regime demolished the Liangwang Catholic Church. Its altar and sacred furnishings weren’t even spared. The building, which was owned by the community, had been registered since 2006.
The Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs’ Subcommittee on Africa, Global Health, Global Human Rights, and International Organizations, Representative Chris Smith, Republican – New Jersey, recently spoke against the Chinese government’s harsh treatment of Christians. Concerning the perilous situation occurring in the country, he stated, “Burning Bibles, destroying churches, and jailing Muslims by the million is only part of the Chinese communist party’s audaciously repressive assault on conscience and religion. Taking a hammer and sickle to the cross is a good way to create bipartisan consensus for a tougher U.S. stance towards China.”
~ 1776 Christian