Earlier this month, Pastor Jin Mingri’s Zion Church in Beijing, one of the largest congregations in the country, was destroyed by the Chinese government, and have since sent him a bill for ¥1.2m yuan, about $174,600 for related costs.
For years, Zion Church was part of a network of unofficial “house” churches functioning outside the government, and were tolerated by authorities.
Mingri told The Guardian that for a while, so long as you didn’t get involved in politics, the government wouldn’t bother you. “But now, if you don’t push the Communist party line, if you don’t display your love for the party, you are a target … Of course we’re scared,” he continued. “We’re in China. But we have Jesus.”
In 1982, China adopted a constitution that technically guaranteed freedom of religion. Authorities, however, are still shutting down unauthorized churches and demanding patriotic loyalty from pastors and their churches. New regulations came about in February that are requiring crackdowns of places of worship, some being required to install cameras feeding live footage to authorities. In following months, hundreds of churches have been destroyed or shut down.
Bob Fu, founder of ChinaAid, says that he has hope for the church to survive. He told The Guardian, “Crackdowns will cause the church to grow faster, and help church be more united.