Editor’s Note: There are serious concerns over the “three-self” identifying churches in general, and why they should not necessarily be considered Christian, which can be read more about here. However, this article highlights how aggressive the Chinese government is being against anything that resembles Christianity within the country. Please read in light of these concerns.
(Bitter Winter) — The cries of the Christians at East Street Church in Sunfuji township, under the jurisdiction of Liangyuan district of Shangqiu city, in Central China’s Henan Province, emanated out onto the streets as they looked over their destroyed sanctuary. The podium was torn apart, the wooden planks dismantled. The floors were ripped up. And valuables — crosses, chairs, air conditioners, etc., — looted.
According to the church’s believers, they were issued a religious activity venue permit in 2011 by the Liangyuan district’s Religious Affairs Bureau, not only making it a legal Three-Self church, but granting them permission to congregate. But as is typically the case in Communist China, the authorities have gone back on their word.
Since last August, the authorities have sought to forcibly shut down the church on the absurd grounds that the church is too close to the village committee building. Unwilling to compromise, the believers continued to meet at the church for services, sparking a months-long battle of wills between the CCP and the people.
And so, little by little, the authorities made their move. In early February, township government officials removed more than 20 benches and cushions from the church, moving them into the yard and burning them.