Baoding (AsiaNews) – A Communist Party official, who is also a Christian, lost her job at a party training school in Baoding for hosting a Bible study session inside the school itself. On January 1 about a hundred police agents broke up the study session, seized material and arrested participants. A month ago, 55-year-old Geng Sude, a Protestant, was told that she was being stripped of her party membership and was no longer vice-principal of the party school in Baoding, Hebei province. Ms Geng retained her professorship in philosophy, but it is unclear whether she will teach again.
“It never occurred to me that the authorities would regard it this seriously,” she told the Reuters news agency. “I did not break the law. I did not say anything anti-government or anti-China.”
Chinese law guarantees religious freedom for those who submit to state control.
Professor Geng said that because the party school auditorium was rarely used she decided to host the event there.
She vowed to appeal to provincial party authorities.
The 50 or so Christians present—including lawyers, professors, authors, journalists and artists—were taken away by police for questioning.
In Ms Geng’s opinion, what happened to her is due to the Party’s fear of Christians. She noted that the Party was relatively more tolerant towards civil servants who were Buddhists.
Last year an internal party investigation found that about a third of the 70 million members of the Communist Party adhere to one form of religion or another.
In the general population, conversions are especially numerous among the more educated strata of society.
Beijing tolerates Protestantism but only within the Three Autonomies Movement (TAM), an organisation established in 1950 by Mao’s regime after foreign missionaries and Church leaders, both foreign- and native-born, were expelled.
Official figures show that TAM’s membership is around 10 million. The number of members in unofficial, i.e. unregistered, ‘House’ Churches is instead estimated to be in excess of 50 million.
china hebei baoding prof geng sude vice-principal communist party training school bible study session arrest job firing