China Revokes Preaching Permit of 57 Three-Self Church Pastors
Bitter Winter magazine reports on March 25 that the preaching permits of 57 Three-Self Church preachers from Henan Province’s Sanmenxia City, were revoked by the government, which means that they will no longer be able to preach. Also recent news that Chinese police officers and other Chinese government officials raided then closed a major Bible school class at Beijing’s Shouwang Church.
In addition to revoking the preaching permits of 57 church preachers the authorities have manipulated the qualification exams each preacher has to take in order to oust “disobedient” preachers. Those who “listen to the government,” even if they lack biblical knowledge, are able to pass the exam, while those who have disagreed with the authorities would somehow fail the exam.
A woman who had her permit revoked in Sanmenxia shares how her disobedience made her lose the right to preach on the podium – she was against the government’s request to remove the cross and all religious images at her church.
She also did not want a flag pole to be installed, since her congregation would be subject to flying the national flag and singing national anthem regularly. She became problematic in the eyes of the authorities, and her permit was subsequently revoked and canceled.
To instill more control in its state-sanctioned churches, Beijing now wants to ensure that all the TSPM churches are operating in parallel to the Chinese Communist Party’s agenda and ideology.
In order to survive, many official churches are becoming more and more like propaganda organs for the Party, drifting away from Christian theology.
International Christian Concern (ICC) has learned that on Saturday, March 23, at around 1:50 p.m., more than 20 police officers and other Chinese government officials raided a Bible school class at Beijing’s Shouwang Church.
The authorities demanded the church to cease its activities immediately and read out an official document formally banning the church. They also demanded Pastor Zhang Xiaofeng to sign and keep a document claiming that the church ‘has conducted activities as a social organization without registration, which is in violation of Regulations of Religious Affairs and Regulations on the Registration and Management of Social Organizations.’
All of the students who were in attendance were taken to a nearby school and questioned by authorities. Several other Christians from another location affiliated with Shouwang were also detained, brought to the school, and interrogated.
All those detained were asked to sign a letter of guarantee that they will no longer attend Shouwang, to which they refused.
The Christians were only sent home hours later by local police offices.
In the meantime, the officials switched out the locks at the locations of both raids in order to prevent Shouwang Church members from returning.
Shouwang Church is one of the largest house churches in Beijing and is attended by more than 1,000 people.
It was targeted and heavily persecuted for its refusal to join the state-sanctioned church in 2011. Its senior pastor, Jin Tian-ming, and two other pastors have been under house arrest ever since and its purchased property is still confiscated by the Chinese government.