Last week, a Chinese government agency fined a Christian $ 2,870 for organizing an online Bible study that it said violated a new anti-religious law.
The man, Zhang Wenli, lives in Yunnan Province and was contacted on August 11 by the Bureau of Ethnic and Religious Affairs and accused of organizing “illegal religious education training” online, according to International Christian Concern (CCI).
The letter cited a new law, the Religious Affairs Regulations 2018, which states that “non-religious groups, non-religious schools, non-religious activity sites and temporary activity sites that are not properly designated as religious cannot carry out religious activities, accepting religious donations, carrying out a religious formationâ¦.
He was fined 20,000 RMB (approximately US $ 2,870).
Christians in China are allowed to join government-sanctioned churches that are part of the Three-Self movement. Because such congregations face heavy regulations and even persecution, millions of Chinese Christians worship in illegal house churches.
âThis shows that it will be increasingly risky for any Christian in China to study the Bible or conduct religious activities online,â the ICC said in a statement. âFrom Wuhan, Sichuan, Yunnan, local authorities have been keeping an eye on Christians, especially those in house churches. Many of their online activities have been bugged and disrupted.
âThe objective of their action is to compel house church members to join state-sanctioned churches,â the ICC added.
Christians in China have faced severe restrictions and persecution in recent months.
Tri-Autonomies congregations that have been forced to close due to the pandemic are only allowed to reopen if their pastors use their sermons for “patriotic education” and to support the Communist Party, according to a report by Bitter Winter.
Earlier this year, the government forcibly removed crosses from at least 250 churches of the Three Autonomies in eastern Anhui Province. Last year, churches across China were ordered to remove copies of the Ten Commandments and replace them with portraits of communist revolutionary leader Mao Zedong and current Chinese President Xi Jinping, Bitter says. Winter.
Chinese churches ordered to praise socialism, slander the United States
China forcefully removes crosses from 250 churches in region
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Michael Foust has covered the intersection of faith and current affairs for 20 years. His stories have been published in Baptist Press, Christianity today, The Christian Post, the Sheet-Chronicle, the Toronto Star and the Knoxville News-Sentinel.