Chinese churches resolute in face of state interference

17 August 2018

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Worshippers at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Beijing, China, in 2016

Worshippers at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Beijing, China, in 2016

UNREGISTERED churches in China have said that they are “willing to attach any price to the Christian faith”, in a joint declaration.

The statement, issued last month, was signed by 34 churches, all based in Beijing and not registered with the state-sanctioned Three Self Patriotic Movement. It draws attention to the constitution’s protection of freedom of belief and church unity: “In the face of suffering, we support each other and stand side-by-side and tide over the difficulties.”

It continues: “We hope that, through dialogue, we will make contributions to the relationship between the state and the church in the new era. Since the 1950s, the predecessors of the Chinese house church have offered a fragrant offering to God for their faith. Now, although in a new environment, the church’s position has never changed, and we are willing to attach any price to the Christian faith.”

The “new environment” it refers to includes the newly amended Regulations on Religious Affairs (Features, 29 June). Last month, Christian Solidarity Worldwide reported “significant pressure to remove the cross and other religious symbols from churches; where churches have refused, police and local authorities have used force to remove or destroy crosses and icons.”

The charity said that independent “house” churches had “come under increasing pressure to close, and are subject to intrusive surveillance, intimidation, detention, and fines. . . The space for independent religious communities is shrinking at a worrying rate.”

It also warned of a “particularly marked deterioration in human rights” for Uyghur Muslims in Xinjiang, since 2017. Reportedly, up to one million Uyghurs and other ethnic minorities have been detained in “re-education camps” across the region. “Witnesses report that, in some areas, almost every man under 60 years of age has been sent to a camp for such reasons as having a relative living overseas or reading the Qur’an.”

Construction of chapel begins. A church-plant in Kowloon, Hong Kong, is celebrating its first permanent building.

The Church of Shalom, in Shamshuipo, Kowloon, has been meeting in the hall of St Andrew’s Primary School for the past ten years; but now a permanent chapel is being built.

At a ground-breaking ceremony last month, the Primate of Hong Kong, the Most Revd Paul Kwong, prayed for the safety of the construction workers, “and for blessings upon the parishioners to put the new building into good use so that they might witness Christ faithfully”.

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