Police raided and broke up a summer camp organized by a house church in Lounan county, Shaanxi province, confiscating church property and hauling off the organizer to a police station for questioning. In Guangdong province, more house churches in the town of Huangjiang, in Dongguan were shut down by the authorities. On Wednesday, house church ministers submitted an application for administrative review to the municipal government, seeking a repeal of the punishment decision made by the Religious Affairs Bureau.
Photo: Electricity and water to Pastor Du Yaping’s home and Zhongfu Putian Church were cut off. (photo from Du Yaping exclusively)
Recently, house churches around the country have been under continuous attacks by the authorities.
According to the Texas-based China Aid Association, on the morning of Friday August 24, a summer camp for students organized by a house church in the town of Sanyao, Luonan county, Shaanxi province, was raided by police, students were kicked out and a teacher was taken into custody. The authorities forcibly removed teaching equipment including computers without going through the requisite procedures.
China Aid Association expressed its condemnation of this incident and urged the authorities to follow the law and protect citizens’ religious rights, and return without delay the church’s unlawfully confiscated property.
Summer camp organizer seized
Pastor Zhang Mingxuan, chairman of the Henan-based China House Church Alliance, told journalists on Wednesday that the police forced their way into the believers’ meeting site and forcibly removed teaching supplies.
“One person from the summer camp was taken away. Their computers and some other articles were confiscated.”
Journalist: How many people were there at the time
Answer: A few dozen people. For details, you’ll have to ask them.
The journalist called a believer surnamed Chang from the Sanyao house church. He described what happened.
“At the time, we and the children were eating a meal, and some police, town mayor, brigade leader—a total of eight people—broke in and began questioning us. The children hadn’t even eaten yet. They took away one person; he was the one teaching the children. This brother, surnamed Wang, was dragged into a vehicle with his hands bound and taken to the police station, and the religious decorations in his home were taken down removed.
Journalist: How long was he gone?
Answer: About 40 minutes. They also took his overhead projector and laptop computer, none of which has been returned yet.
Journalist: Did they give him a list (of confiscated items)?
Answer: No, no.
Journalist: Did they show any legal papers?
Answer: No, they didn’t show any ID’s.
Journalist: How many students were there then?
Answer: More than 30 at the time.
He said that the authorities called it an “illegal meeting” and gave them a warning.
“They said this was an illegal meeting, that proper procedures had not been completed. He said that house churches that have not gone through the proper procedures cannot meet again after today.”
Journalist: What classes was the summer camp teaching at the time?
Answer: Christians were tutoring the younger children and giving advice to the teenagers.
Journalist: How many believers attend your Sanyao house church?
Answer: There are five house churches in Sanyao, with a total of more than 200 people.
Dongguan’s Huangjiang church was shut down.
Radio Free Asia has recently reported many cases of police and government officials obstructing house church activities in Anhui, Guangdong, and other provinces. Zhongfu Putian church in the town of Gaobu in Dongguan, and Zhongfu Wanmin Church in the town of Tangxia were sealed by the authorities and ordered to shut down for a period of time.
Wanmin Church pastor Li Peng told Radio Free Asia on Wednesday that another church in the town of Huangjiang was recently also shut down.
“Several churches were shut down, one in Gaobu, and another one in the town of Huangjiang.”
Journalist: When was the church in the town of Huangjiang shut down?
Answer: Just recently.
On Tuesday, the pastors and believers from several churches, including Zhongfu Putian and Zhongfu Wanmin, went to the Religious Bureau to request that a dialogue be opened with the director about the legal procedures to shut down a church. The authorities refused to retract the “shut-down notice”.
Zhongfu Putian Church’s pastor, Du Yaping, told journalists on Wednesday that an application for an administrative review of the Religious Affairs Bureau’s decision has been submitted to the municipal government.
“Brother Li Peng and I, several of us all went to meet with the director, asking him to retract the punishment decision. Their staff received us and their reply was that it could not be retracted. He said, ‘We are implementing the law.’ They think they did the right thing. Now we are using the legal process--today, I mailed the administrative review [request] to the Dongguan Municipal Government (to the mayor). If they don’t respond in five days, we will make an appeal.”
Journalist: How many of you went yesterday?
Answer: Five of us went yesterday, for a dialogue, including two pastors, two ministers and a sister.”
Journalist: How many churches did you represent?
Answer: Each of us has his own meeting place.
Journalist: I heard that a house church in the town of Huangjiang was also shut down?
Answer: Yes. Right, right.
Believers apply for an administrative review.
Pastor Li Peng of Zhongfu Sanmin Church in the town of Tangxia said that they had gone to the authorities many times after their landlord evicted them, wanting to open a dialogue.
“We visited the Social Affairs Bureau of our town, and they said we had to register and get a permit and that we needed to go to the Three-Self churches. I said that we were a house church and would not join Three-Self. He said, ‘Then there’s nothing we can do.’ Then we went to the Religious Affairs Bureau and made an appointment for Thursday (August 30) when they will come to our church to dialogue with us.”