Yet another prominent “underground” Chinese church has been shut down by government authorities, as President Xi Jinping continues his brutal crackdown on the nation’s hard-pressed Christian community. Shouwang Church is an unregistered congregation that attracts more than 1,000 weekly attendees — it is the fourth significant underground church to be closed down in recent months.
On Saturday, government officials stormed the church buildings and ordered those in attendance to cease their Bible study immediately. According to International Christian Concern (ICC), officials then proceeded to read aloud a document that ordered all ministry activities to end with immediate effect.
The police then instructed the church’s current pastor, Zhang Xiaofeng, to sign a document that confirmed he had “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.”
Those taking part in the Bible study were then marched off to a local school, where they were interrogated by officials. All those detained were asked to sign a letter of guarantee promising to immediately abandon Shouwang and no longer be associated with its ministry — every single one of them refused.
The official government notice reads:
“Per Article 32 of the Regulations for Registration and Management of Social Organizations and the Interim Measures for Banning Illegal Non-governmental Organizations, it is decided that “Beijing Shouwang Church” and its subsidiary organizations should be shut down and its illegal possessions confiscated.”
Another meeting place, located in the Changyuan Tiandi Building in Beijing’s Haidian District, was also shuttered — with a simple, bleak notice hanging from the doors explaining that the church was engaging in illegal activity. According to China Aid, the sign cited the illegality of a “cross hanging on one of the interior walls, a podium placed within the venue, a prayer request box, numerous folding chairs, a piano, Bibles, hymnals, microphones, and sound equipment.”
“It is an illegal place to conduct religious activities,” the notice concluded.
As well as shutting down the church’s physical presence, by switching out the locks on all its locations, the Chinese government has also taken Shouwang’s website offline.
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SOURCE: CBN News; Faithwire, Will Maule