(Xiamen, Fujian—May 12, 2017) Authorities in China’s coastal Fujian province banned a church, accusing its members of “establishing religious sites” without approval and “collaborating with Korea.”
In a notice, authorities accused the River of Life Berean Church and the Bereans Research Institute of Theology of having Korean connections and setting up illegal religious meeting places. The Huli District Ethnic and Religious Affairs Bureau also confiscated 1,346 Yuan (approx. U.S. $200) of donated money, claiming it was “illegal income.”
A lawyer who examined the case said that the church is uncertain whether or not they should take legal action against the government. “They are afraid of fighting against the government. I asked local lawyers to help, but they haven’t responded yet. The mainland [government] has intensified the persecution against Christianity. … It is ridiculous to arrest someone for attending house churches. The government often uses the excuse that Christians are ‘disrupting social order’ to persecute them, since that can be applied to every house church in the country.”
Another Christian pastor surnamed Zhang criticized the government’s handling of the church, saying that even though River of Life Berean Church has some controversial beliefs, it is not considered a cult by the government and therefore, should not be targeted in this way.
“Since the government can’t accuse the church of collaborating with the U.S., the officers now use Korea as an excuse,” Zhang said. “Since religions are founded in different countries, the people are unavoidably ‘collaborating with foreign powers’ when they choose a religious belief. Jesus himself was a foreigner. This logic is ridiculous. Our government has armed itself to the teeth in order to control people’s minds.”
River of Life Berean Church was founded eight years ago, and has a weekly attendance of several dozen members.
ChinaAid reports on church bans issued by the communist government in order to expose religious freedom abuses perpetuated against Chinese Christians and members of other persecuted faiths.
ChinaAid Media Team