Report details increased regulations on Christian clergy by Chinese government
The United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) recently released a factsheet on China’s new measures on the management of religious clergy. The report illustrates how new measures undertaken by China’s State Administration of Religious Affairs (SARA) severely restrict the religious freedom of the clergy, in addition to laying the groundwork for continued persecution of house churches.
Clergy from the five government-sanctioned religious organizations—Buddhist Association of China, Chinese Taoist Association, Islamic Association of China, Protestant Three-Self Patriotic Movement, and Chinese Patriotic Catholic Association—are now required to comply with SARA’s new regulations. These regulations include extending full support and allegiance to the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), and preventing “religious extremism,” a euphemism for the vitality of the house church movement in China. House churches have already been illegal, but now with the new regulations they have become a central target of the CCP.
The new measures also include a regulation that government-sanctioned churches cannot interfere with the education or daily life of citizens. SARA has also installed surveillance systems to monitor clergy—whether current or retired—to keep track of those who violate the new regulations. These measures will not only complicate the lives and work of the government-sanctioned churches; they will also lead to further persecution of house churches.