For months, the large Protestant congregation was in the crosshairs of the Chinese government. For Rev Jin Mingri, “In this land, the only one we can trust in is God”. Beijing fears the growth of Protestant Churches that refuse to join the Three Self-Patriotic Movement.
Beijing (AsiaNews/Agencies) – The Zion Church has been "legally banned" and the "illegal promotional material" it had was confiscated, the Beijing Chaoyang District Civil Affairs Bureau announced yesterday.
The Zion Church is one of the most important Protestant underground communities in the capital. Some of its services could attract up to 1,500 people.
According to the authorities, the Protestant Church broke the rules because it organised unauthorised mass gatherings. As a result, few days ago they banned the use of its main meeting hall.
The Zion Church itself had never been formally recognised, despite repeated attempts by its leaders. Instead, the government insisted it merge with the interdenominational Three Self-Patriotic Movement,
Still, it had enjoyed a certain degree of freedom until recently. In April, when the community refused to install closed-circuit television cameras, the government briefly turned off water and power supplies. And last week, the rented hall the congregation was using became off-limits.
“I fear that there is no way for us to resolve this issue with the authorities,” Zion’s pastor Jin Mingri said. “In this land, the only one we can trust in is God,” he added.
In July, more than 30 of Beijing’s hundreds of underground Protestant churches took the rare step of releasing a joint statement complaining of “unceasing interference” and the “assault and obstruction” of regular activities of believers since the new regulations came into effect.
China’s rulers fear the religious revival that is taking place in the country and the growth of Protestant communities, most of whom refuse to join the Three Self-Patriotic Movement, which they deem subservient to those in power.
It is estimated that there are more than 40 million underground Protestants in China compared to about 20 million in the official community.