On 19 March, Siming District United Front Work Department (religious affairs bureau) sent a notice to each neighbourhood committee, asking them to strengthen the screening of unregistered churches.
The lead department asserts that consolidating the prohibition of “illegal religious activities”, will help prevent the recurrence of banned religious activities.
The notice specifically asked neighbourhood committees to organise staff to patrol and check mixed-use (residential-commercial hybrid) buildings and business hotels on Saturday evenings and Sundays when most religious activities occur.
Once an individual discovers an illegal religious activity, they are to report this “crime” to the district’s United Front Work Department to coordinate the investigation and penalty.
Several neighbourhoods explicitly listed in the notice, include Wucun, Binhai, Kaiyuan and Lujiang. The notice also directs staff to pay special attention to various other locations.
The reportedly illegal religious venues refer to those house churches who adhere to their beliefs and refuse to join the government-sanctioned Three-Self churches and do not register with the religious affairs bureau. Xiamen municipal government officials started cracking down on these house churches in 2019. Since then church buildings have been demolished. Church services have been raided, Christians have been beaten and arrested, and Christian tombstones have been damaged.
Let us pray.
- Thank the Lord for the courage of the believers in China. Pray they will remain faithful as they face escalating opposition.
- Ask the Lord to cover all Christians in these areas with His love and protection.
- Pray for the authorities responsible; that they will not fear the Gospel but will submit to the Lord’s merciful and sovereign hand.