By Joseph DeCaro, BosNewsLife International Correspondent
BEIJING, CHINA (BosNewsLife)– China’s Communist government has closed a dozen churches in Hainan Province and threatens to shut down many more as part of a “clandestine plan” to “eradicate” all unregistered house churches, an advocacy group warned Thursday, June 6.
China Aid Association (CAA) said the crackdown could impact many of some 130 million devoted Christians in the country.
“The government is carrying out its plans to ‘eradicate’ the independent house church movement, a crackdown that would affect up to 100 million people,” worshiping outside the established churches, explained CAA President Bob Fu, a former house church pastor.
He said his U.S.-based group “expresses its shock and concern that the relevant administrative departments of the Hainan government are systematically closing down house churches.”
Fu added that recent reports from “many other [Chinese] provinces and regions indicate that the same thing is happening to house churches elsewhere”. He said the developments confirm CAA’s report last year of the “intensification of the Chinese government’s secret 10-year plan to eradicate house churches.”
CAA said China’s leadership wants to end house churches in three phases with the aim to forces them to join the state-backed Three-Self Patriotic Movement denomination (TSPM).
“During the first phase from January to June, the State Administration for Religious Affairs had secretly investigated all of China’s unregistered house churches. In the second phase, these churches will begin to be shut down while their leaders are sent to labor camps for allegedly ‘organizing and using a cult to undermine law enforcement’,” explained Fu, who is in close contact with targeted Christians.
House churches that join the TSPM will be renamed “house gatherings”, according CAA’s investigation seen by BosNewsLife. Though some house churches have reportedly joined the TSPM to avoid further harassment, most congregations refuse citing the Chinese government’s “censorship of sermon content.”
The third and last phase is predicted to span 2015 to 2025 when the government will shut down all unregistered house churches that still haven’t joined the TSPM, according to CAA investigators.
There was no immediate response Thursday, June 6, from Chinese officials to the claims. China’s government has in the past denied a crackdown on religious freedom, saying it only fights “dangerous cults” while Christians are free to worship within the official churches.
(BosNewsLife, the first truly independent news agency covering persecuted Christians, is ‘Breaking the News for Compassionate Professionals’ since 2004).
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