The domestic church, not recognized by the government, had a 5-year lease, which was discontinued. With the new regulations on religious activities, those who offer a meeting place for unregistered religious activities risk expropriation. Six other minor community centers closed. In addition to Beijing, communities in Guangzhou, Shenzhen, Chengdu, Lanzhou, Xuzhou and other cities suppressed. "A new tool to suppress the churches?".
Beijing (AsiaNews) – Zion Church, one of the most important Protestant communities in the capital, has recently been driven out of its lawfully rented headquarters. In addition, in the last few months, six other satellite centers of the community have been closed, the account on Wechat (the Chinese Whatsapp) has been blocked, and - before being expelled - the community had been ordered to put up surveillance cameras. On their refusal, water and electricity were cut for a short time.
The difficulties experienced by the Church of Sion are told in a long article appeared two days ago on "ChinaSource" with the title "A new tool for suppressing Churches?".
Zion Church draws 1,500 faithful every Sunday. It is one of the largest domestic churches in Beijing, frequented by people from different backgrounds, even from the upper middle class. The government, however, does not recognize it - despite repeated requests from the community - and demands that it become part of the Three Self Movement, the official interdenominational Protestant church. But the overwhelming majority of Protestants refuse to enter because they see it as too compromised with political power.
To overcome these problems, the Zion Church has established a cultural association, the Beijing Jianweitang Culture Co., Ltd, which has been able to sign a 5-year lease contract at Longbaochen Commercial Mansion, in the Chaoyang district . Originally, the same owner had pushed the community to rent a whole floor for even 10 years. But then, last August 20, every member of the community received the warning that the contract had expired and that they had to leave before the beginning of September.
According to the testimonies reported in the cited article, the pressure on the community began in March, after the new regulations on religious activities went into effect. They emphasize that religious gatherings must take place only in registered places and under government control. Any other possibility is considered illegal. And anyone who rents their property for illicit religious activities risks confiscation of the property.
For the faithful, these regulations do not take into account what is truly religious experience. If they are applied in their strictest form even grace before meals, made in a family at home, would be considered an "illegal religious activity".
"Zion Church Beijing - concludes the article - is among the numerous churches that are currently experiencing persecution in China. Local governments in Beijing, Guangzhou, Shenzhen, Chengdu, Lanzhou, Xuzhou and other cities, have carried out actions to suppress and persecute the local house churches. Similar actions have taken place across the entire provinces of Henan and Jiangxi. Chinese churches are experiencing the climax of the severest persecution seen in the past forty years. These acts of persecution of Christians are premeditated and systemically planned".