(ChinaAid) — According to Christians in China’s central Henan province, the local public security bureaus and religious affairs bureaus have started targeting house church members with threats and fines since early February.
A new initiative in Nanyang, Henan, explicitly forbids any kind of religious gatherings in people’s homes. Anyone caught attending or hosting meetings outside of a registered religious venue will be subject to a fine of 30,000 yuan (U.S. $4,700). All Christians in the area are ordered to join an officially registered church.
China’s current religious policy dictates that only Buddhism, Taoism, Islam, Protestant Christianity, and Catholicism, which are officially recognized by the State, are legal for citizens to participate in, and they may only do so in churches, mosques, or temples operated by the government. The official Chinese Protestant church is known as the Three-Self Patriotic Movement, named for its principles of self-governance (no recognition of religious authorities from outside China), self-support (no financial ties to foreign organizations), and self-propagation (no influence from foreign missionaries).