The Chinese government is continuing its crackdown on Christianity by reportedly demanding “church-free zones” near schools and requiring places of worship to hand over names of their youth members.
According to Bitter Winter, an online magazine covering religious freedom and human rights in China, the discriminatory document — “Implementation Plan on the Special Governance of Private Christian Gathering Sites” — was issued by the Bureau of Ethnic and Religious Affairs in a city in the Shanxi Province.
A similar document was sent out in the Henan Province. It states:
All private Christian gathering sites around universities and colleges, as well as on-campus activity sites, are to be shut down in accordance with the law. Criticism and [re]education of participating teachers and students is to be carried out by the school authorities.
Interestingly, the government-approved Three-Self Church, a national Protestant denomination beholden to Chinese control and oversight, is also included in the new regulation. Government officials behind the anti-Christian policy said there “will be no reversal of the decision in the future.”
As for the requirement that churches submit the names of their youth attendees, many young believers are reportedly concerned the Chinese government could use that information to affect their employment opportunities in the future.
This latest religious crackdown comes just weeks after the Chinese government detained a prominent Christian pastor, Wang Yi, who helms a church in Chengdu, the provincial capital of Sichuan.
Prior to his arrest, Wang penned a powerful letter about civil disobedience. The lengthy memo was released just days after he was arrested by Chinese authorities. In it, the minister said he “respect[s] the authorities God has established in China” and “submit[s] to the historical and institutional arrangements of God in China.”
Wang has not yet been released.