Chinese Communist Party (CCP) police and state security officers have prohibited a pastor from having Christian books.
According to religious freedom charity China Aid, police turned up at the home of a rural minister in Linyi, Shandong Province. They demanded that he allow them to check his mobile phone. After learning that the pastor had joined a WeChat group, “Help rural ministers read books”, they showed him a document that required him to leave the group and refuse any books the group might mail him.
The charity said officers probably thought some members of the group lived abroad and belonged to the overseas force and violated the 15th decree the National Religious Affairs Administration issued on 9th February.
The law, which includes Article 12 in the Measures for Administration of Religious Staff, effective 1st May, pertains to what religious staff are forbidden to do and includes two clauses about overseas forces:
- religious staff are dominated by overseas forces, accept religious positions offered by overseas religious groups or institutions without authorization, and violate the principles of independence, self run;
- religious staff violate related national rules and accept overseas donation....
The “Help rural ministers read books” started in 2019 and asks Christians to donate money to purchase books for ministers who cannot afford legal copies of books. It sends theology books to those pastors each month.
The rural minister CCP security officers and police interrogated about books the group gifted him serves at a historic 100-year-old church. Authorities have demolished the church building several times, but members have rebuilt it.
Several years ago, the church divided when the CCP issued the New Religious Affairs Regulations. The pastor and majority of congregation at that time feared being persecuted, so they joined Three-Self churches.
At that time, the young rural minister led those who chose not to join the state-sanctioned churches to leave the original church and set up a new meeting spot. In 2018, this minister had signed the Pastors’ Joint Statement: For the Sake of the Christian Faith which Pastor Wang Yi of Early Rain Covenant Church launched. In turn, the CCP targeted him for persecution.
The rural pastor told CCP state security officers and police: “I will cooperate with you, but I am unwilling to betray my faith and attend a Three-Self church or register at the Bureau of Ethnic and Religious Affairs. We [Christians] are willing to suffer for the faith.”