We have multiple news reports confirming that authorities in China have closed at least six “underground” Protestant churches in Guizhou province in Southwest China, for being “illegal religious venues.”
Increasingly, government authorities have pressured unregistered churches in the area and in several Chinese provinces to join the state-sanctioned Three-Self Patriotic Movement (TSPM). Officials are also reportedly harassing more than 300 church members, reportedly resulting in some churches losing nearly half their members.
A few days later in the diocese of Wenzhou in Zhejiang province, a cross was torn down from one of the churches. In Henan provice, a cross was taken from the top of a church in Luoyang, in Henan province. And a week earlier, also in Henan, officials from the United Front that oversees religious activities tore down another church cross in the diocese of Zhumadian. Because “it was too visible.”
Meanwhile, in Hubei, priests were reportedly called to a meeting to be “re-educated” on what an “independent Catholic church” should look like. A local priest, Father Paul, told the Catholic news agency UCAN: “Their [the government] ultimate goal is to eliminate all religion. No religion can be an exception.”
As the Body of Christ, we’re called to pray with our persecuted brothers and sisters. Please pray with us for church leaders and congregants of these six churches–as well as believers throughout China who continue to face increasing pressure from the government. In a crackdown on Christians in growing numbers of provinces, leader Xi Jinping has stoked nationalism and promoted loyalty to the Communist Party in ways not seen in decades.