The communist government of China’s Zhejiang Province is enforcing a new law that demands numerous churches to turn over all of their tithes and donations to state authorities.
According to a nonprofit Christian organization dedicated to serving the persecuted Church in China, the officials of Pingyang County in Wenzhou are compelling members to give all of their churches’ income to state authorities.
“The government officials will interfere with church affairs, managing our donations and some large-scale projects,” a source told China Aid.
And the persecution doesn’t stop there, as the government’s consent must be acquired in order to do just about anything inside — or outside — church walls.
“We have to obtain [the government’s] permission if we would like to buy equipment or decorate the church,” China Aid's source continued. “We will have to ask for permission for any expenses more than a few thousand yuan.”
Tithes and offerings aren’t the only things the Chinese government is confiscating from the Church in the province, as thousands of churches have been razed for so-called “aesthetic” reasons.
“State officials in Zhejiang province have demolished over 2,000 church crosses since 2014, when a ‘beautification’ campaign known as ‘Three Rectifications and One Demolition’ was launched,” according to Christianity Daily. “Authorities have cited illegal construction as the reason for the demolition of churches and crosses.”
A trend of eradicating the Church
The demolition of churches and confiscations of their property and funds is nothing new in China, where government authorities are using any excuses they can find to tear down and destroy Christian worship centers.
Just months ago in April, China Aid reported that a church in Zhegiang Province was bulldozed to the ground with the explanation that the cross on top of its building was “too high.”
In fact, the Chinese government’s current campaign to eradicate Christianity from its atheistic nation began in 2014, when Christians saw local officials across the country ramp up their effort to suppress religious freedom.
“Christian groups have been one of the major targets of the government, which sought to keep a tight rein on perceived dissidents in the socialist system,” Christianity Daily informed.
The heads of churches and the attorneys who fight to protect their religious freedom were witnessed as the major targets of the latest purge.
“Hundreds of pastors and Christian lawyers were detained in China in the last two years,” the report continued. “Many of those arrested still remain under judicial custody.”
Earlier this year, the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) issued its annual report that designated China as one of the worst violators of religious liberty on the planet.
“[China is among the] countries of particular concern (CPC) [where] the governments either engaged in or tolerated ‘particularly severe’ violations of religious freedom,” USCIRF announced.
The consensus on China as a persecutor of Christians is shared by other organizations dedicated to exposing oppressive regimes around the world.
“Individuals and groups who have fought hard in the past decade for human rights gains were the clearest casualties of an aggressive campaign against peaceful dissent,” a 2016 report issued by Human Rights Watch reads. “[T]heir treatment [is] starkly contrasting with President Xi’s vow to promote [the] ‘rule of law.’”
Human Rights Watch lists China as one of the world’s major violators of religious freedom and continues to document its governmental abuses on not only the nation’s Christian worship centers, but on the millions joining the ever-expanding house church movement that is sweeping the country in the midst of escalating persecution.