Chinese churches join in the persecution of 'underground' believers

China’s official church system has joined with the state in the persecution of 'underground' churches, with the Shouwang Church in Beijing being targetted for its refusal to join the 'official' Three-Self church system.
report by Intercessors Network

Shouwang ChurchIn a development that shows the Chinese government’s determination to use all means available to bring one of Beijing’s largest house churches into compliance, representatives of the government’s Three-Self church system have taken part in the police interrogation of Shouwang Church members detained in the past two weeks for persisting in trying to hold outdoor worship services.

In Shouwang Church’s weekly report on the now 10-week stand-off with the authorities over a place for the church to meet, it said that “in the past two Sundays, Three-Self church personnel showed up at many police stations to persuade, ‘educate’ and even rebuke the imprisoned brothers and sisters in an attempt to get them to leave Shouwang Church and join one of the Three-Self churches or to ask us to unconditionally abandon our outdoor worship.”

One Shouwang member described on the church’s Buzz site his surprise that, in addition to the usual police and government interrogators, his interlocutors included someone “with deep knowledge about Christianity. For sure he knows much more about the Bible than I do, effortlessly and knowingly talking about Nebuchadnezzar and Ezekiel and so on.”

He said that while previous interrogations were focused on Shouwang’s refusal to join the government-controlled Three-Self Patriotic Movement Committee’s church system, this time the discussion centered on loftier questions, including “the central issue” of whether what Shouwang is doing is in accordance with God’s will and Biblical teaching. “This surprised me greatly,” he wrote. “Perhaps this will be their approach from now on.”

At least two other Shouwang members encountered similar experiences with representatives of the Three-Self, according to information posted by church members on Shouwang’s Buzz site.

This clearly shows that the Three-Self Patriotic Movement Committee, which is ultimately controlled by the Communist Party, is directly involved in the government’s attempts to force Shouwang Church to give up trying to continue to meet as an intact 1,000-member-strong church while pursuing government registration as an independent church outside the official Three-Self church framework.

Intercessors Network, 20/06/2011

Editor 27/03/2013 23:16
How China Plans to Wipe Out House Churches.

Incidents of persecution of Christians rose by about 42 percent last year compared with 2011, according to the report by human rights group China Aid. Many of these incidents involved groups of Christians. In total, the number of individual persecuted Christians rose by roughly 14 percent and total individual detentions increased by nearly 12 percent. China Aid said overall total persecution in six categories was about 13 percent worse than in 2011-though China Aid termed its statistics just "the tip of the iceberg."

At least 132 incidents of persecution affecting 4,919 Christians-442 of whom were clergy-were reported in the country last year, according to China Aid's annual report. The Texas-based group tracked detention of at least 1,441 Christians, the sentencing of nine of them, and the abuse (verbal, mental and physical, including beatings and torture) of 37 Christians. ...

The report also notes that persecution last year was 61 percent worse than in 2010; 85 percent worse than in 2009; 120 percent worse than in 2008; 308 percent worse than in 2007; and 372 percent worse than in 2006. ...

The continued rise of persecution is not the only dynamic raising serious concerns; authorities have targeted unregistered house churches in a planned manner, according to the China Aid report. In 2008 and 2009, officials "targeted house church leaders and churches in urban areas," China Aid notes. In 2010, they "attacked Christian human rights lawyers groups and using abuse, torture and mafia tactics." The focus in 2011 was on increasing the intensity of attacks against Christians and house churches.

In 2012, a new three-phase approach was adopted to wipe out unregistered house churches, which the government saw as a hostile group of dissenters, and force them to join the official Three-Self Patriotic Movement (TSPM) church system. In the first phase, from January 2012 to June, the State Administration for Religious Affairs (SARA) secretly investigated house churches across the country and created files on them, the report says. This was followed by a wave of crackdowns on house churches, which has continued into 2013, as part of the second phase. The second phase will also entail strongly encouraging unregistered churches to become part of the TSPM-at which point they would become known as "house gatherings," with the government banning the term "house churches."

Some house churches have registered with authorities to avoid arrests and harassment, but most do not as they object to the beliefs and controls of some TPSM leaders. Barriers to evangelical churches registering with the TSPM include theological differences, adverse consequences if they reveal names and addresses of church leaders or members, and government control of sermon content.

The number of Protestant house-church Christians has been estimated at between 45 million and 60 million. ...

See original report:

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