Three Underground Churches Shut Down in China Since September

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by Jordan Hilger

(Worthy News) - In China, Rongguilli Church, Early Rain Covenant Church, and Zion Church have all been victims in recent months of President Xi Jinping’s attempts to control the spread of underground Christianity.

On December 16th, Rongguilli Church was raided by 60 government officials and shut down. Officials posted a message on social media telling believers to switch to 1 of 15 other “registered” churches.

“As the secular government continues to persecute the church and harm the human conscience that belongs to God alone, I will continue to resist [in] the faith,” said Pastor Wang Yi of Early Rain Covenant Church in Chengdu, who was taken into custody on December 9th for “inciting subversion of state power.”

The Communist Party organs Three-Self Patriotic Movement (TSPM) and China Christian Council are the Chinese government’s main instruments for controlling the dissemination of biblical Christianity. While TSPM forbids the preaching of the resurrection and second coming, the founding member of the China Christian Council, Bishop Kuang-hsun, was an avowed atheist.

“The construction of Chinese Christian theology should adapt to China’s national condition and integrate with Chinese culture,” China’s Director of State Administration for Religious Affairs, Wang Zuoan, was quoted as saying in 2014.

After experiencing a relative lull in persecution during Hu Jintao's rule (2003-2013), Chinese Christians have faced renewed efforts by the government to derail the practice of biblical faith since Xi Jinping’s election in 2013.

Zion Church, the biggest house church in Beijing, was the first to be hit by the recent wave of persecution in September after rejecting requests by government officials to install surveillance cameras on its campus.

“Under Xi, the government has shifted its approach from allowing churches like Zion to operate as long as they don’t get political to now seeking to actively control them or shut them down,” said Brent Fulton, former managing director of the institute for Chinese Studies at Wheaton College.

“More persecution, more growth” was the phrase Samuel Lamb, Rongguilli Church’s founding Pastor, liked to use when referring to China’s ever-increasing house church movement.

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