A new religious ordinance took effect in China on 1 February, with the stated intent of implementing greater controls to “eradicate extremism” in the interest of national security. Under the ordinance, organisers of unapproved religious activities and anyone providing a venue for illegal religious events will face hefty fines.
More than half of China’s estimated 120 million Christians currently choose to worship in unapproved, or illegal, house churches rather than join the government-controlled Three-Self Church. Even before the new ordinance took effect, local authorities in some provinces had begun to shut down house churches, force church members to replace religious signs with images of President Xi Jinping and even renounce their faith.
Chinese Premier Li Keqiang signed off on new revisions on 26 August 2017 and they took effect on 1 February.
House church leaders told VOM field workers they would move their congregations underground rather than adhere to the restrictive religious laws.
In response to these new regulations, ChinaAid founder and President Bob Fu said: “This is by far the harshest and most restrictive religious policy the Chinese regime has issued on religious matters since the end of the Cultural Revolution.
It shows the Chinese regime will further tighten its total control on any unapproved religious organisations, such as independent house churches and religious activities, in the name of the ‘law.’ If implemented accordingly, all unregistered churches and their religious activities will be completely banned and subjected to severe, unprecedented punishment if found in violation. It specifically forbids any unauthorised religious training, schooling, or proselytising.
Even attending overseas religious conferences without approval will be banned by the political authorities; those who violate this rule will face a stiff penalty, including a fine ranging from $3,978 – $59,670. Those who provide venues such as homes, buildings, and offices will be persecuted with harsh administrative and criminal measures.
The revisions specifically target religious activities in the education sector.
Requiring approval from the provincial government authorities to build a church is a ridiculous stipulation! I predict the regulations will fail miserably, since it will be difficult for the government to enforce it nationwide. As a result, Chinese independent churches will grow at a much faster pace.”
ChinaAid exposes abuses, such as those laid out by China’s new religious regulations, to stand in solidarity with the persecuted and promote religious freedom and rule of law.
Bibles Plus 2018 is responding to the cries from persecuted believers, willing to risk all for a Bible. For a gift of $25, you will provide a persecuted Christian family with a Bible PLUS some basic life essentials. https://vom.com.au/biblesplus/