China’s crackdown on the booming house church movement continued this fall, with government officials raiding worship services and even telling Christians they could no longer read the Bible.
By law, churches in China must register with the government and join either the Three-Self Patriotic Movement (if they’re Protestant) or the Chinese Patriotic Catholic Association. But because such churches face severe restrictions, millions of Christians have joined illegal, unregistered house churches.
In October, a house church in Jinan, Shandong province was ambushed by a group of local officials, according to the watchdog Bitter Winter.
“From now on, you are not allowed to meet here, nor are you allowed to read the Bible,” a local government official told the church members. “According to orders from the central government, the Bible is banned. You’re designated as a target of the campaign to ‘clean up gang crime and eliminate evil.’”
House churches “all over Shandong province are to be shut down,” the church members were told.
“What kind of government is this?” an elderly Christian asked Bitter Winter. “They turn a blind eye on evil-doers and criminals, but persecute us Christians.”
In August, police officers and government officials raided a house church in the province of Yunnan and ordered the members to join a Three-Self congregation that was “thousands of miles away,” according to Bitter Winter.
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SOURCE: Christian Headlines, Michael Foust