China Plots to Eradicate House Churches


Government aims to shut down groups failing to register with official church within 10 years.

China’s government is engaged in a three-phase campaign to eradicate Protestant house churches, according to a statement released Friday (April 20) by the China Aid Association (CAA).
The government’s strategy was clearly outlined in a document released last September during a training class for “Patriots in the Christian Community” run by the State Administration for Religious Affairs (SARA), according to an unnamed CAA source. 
From January through June of this year, the document called for local authorities to conduct a thorough investigation of house churches nationwide and create dossiers on each of them. In phase two, for the following two to three years, authorities would strongly encourage unregistered churches to affiliate with the government-approved Three-Self Patriotic Movement (TSPM); and in phase three, to be completed within 10 years, churches refusing to comply would be shut down, according to the CAA.
Officials would also ban the words “house church” and all reports on house churches from websites and other media and replace the term with “house gatherings” – a term that would refer to groups meeting in sites affiliated with the TSPM.
In a recent random survey conducted by the CAA’s source in several provinces, over 95 percent of house church leaders said they had already felt the impact of these investigations, while 85 percent said local religious affairs departments had already created a dossier for their group.
“Since the beginning of 2012, we have noticed an increase in the frequency of persecution,” the CAA said in a press statement. “In addition to the continuing persecution of Shouwang Church in Beijing, the number of similar cases has risen 20 percent over last year and has spread into other areas, including Christian education, publication and bookstores.”
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SOURCE: Compass Direct News