Chinese City Offers $1,500 USD Reward to Citizens who Snitch on Christians to the Government

SHIJIAZHUANG, CHINA – APRIL 09: (CHINA OUT) Chinese Catholic worshipers wait to take communion at the Palm Sunday Mass during the Easter Holy Week at an “underground” or “unofficial” church on April 9, 2017 near Shijiazhuang, Hebei Province, China. China, an officially atheist country, places a number of restrictions on Christians, allowing legal practice of the faith only at state-approved churches. The policy has driven an increasing number of Christians and Christian converts ‘underground’ to secret congregations in private homes and other venues. While the size of the religious community is difficult to measure, studies estimate more than 80 million Christians inside China; some studies support the possibility it could become the most Christian nation in the world in the coming years. Officially, there have been no relations between China and the Vatican since the country’s modern founding in 1949 though in recent years there have been signs of warming relations between Chinese president Xi Jinping and Pope Francis that could possibly allow greater religious freedom in the future. At present, the split means approved Chinese Christians worship within a state-sanctioned Church known as the Patriotic Association which regards the Communist Party as its leader, not the Pope in Rome. (Photo by Kevin Frayer/Getty Images)

The Chinese government is increasing its crackdown on Christians by actually rewarding citizens that report Christians to the government.

Guangzhou has become the first city to offer up to $1,500 USD to any Chinese citizen that reports “illegal religious activities,” like underground churches or Bible studies, which was recently announced by their ethnic and religious affairs department.

According to the South China Morning Post, the city’s crackdown has come down hardest on unregistered Protestant churches. The government has also demolished Catholic churches, Buddhist temples and Muslim mosques that were not government-approved.

Not only can informants earn between 5,000 and 10,000 Chinese yuan for reporting a religious leader who is not Chinese, but they can also receive 3,000 to 5,000 yuan for reporting a foreign religious group, and 100 to 3,000 yuan for reporting local religious gatherings.

Ying Fuk-Tsang, who is the director of the Divinity School of Chung Chi College at the Chinese University of Hong Kong, said the crackdown is more common than people think and allows for strict social control.

“This will compress the survival space of house churches,” he told the Morning Post. “Not only will they have to deal with the official crackdown but now also the threat from their neighbors.”

The path to sinicization

Over the past year, the Chinese government has cracked down on Christian practices, while giving more freedom to grassroots officials to implement their own power over religious practitioners, shutting down small religious gatherings and implementing strong penalties against Christians.

As Faithwire previously reported, in January, a document was issued to a city in the Shanxi Province by the Bureau of Ethnic and Religious Affairs that would regulate “church-free zones” near Chinese schools.

The plan, officially known as the “Implementation Plan on the Special Governance of Private Christian Gathering Sites,” not only created mandatory “church-free zones,” but also required churches to give the names of youth members to the local government.

The city in the Shanxi Province was not the only one affected by this ruling, as a similar document was issued to the Henan Province. It reads, in part:

All private Christian gathering sites around universities and colleges, as well as on-campus activity sites, are to be shut down in accordance with the law. Criticism and [re]education of participating teachers and students is to be carried out by the school authorities.

In September, the Chinese State Administration for Religious Affairs (SARA) proposed legislation to further regulate Christian activity on their already regulated internet, Christianity Today reported.

This type of law would prohibit things like online church services, which would be detrimental to Christians in China who already have extremely limited opportunities to hear the Word of God.

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SOURCE: Faithwire –