Grandmother, daughter, and grandson arrested for Practicing Christianity in their home
In the most recent case of religious persecution in China, a house church pastor, Xu Shizhen, her daughter and her 3-year-old grandson were arrested by authorities. The family was reportedly taken into custody after a month of being found singing and dancing in praise and worship, and preaching the gospel in a public park.
It is currently unknown where the family was taken after their arrest, but according to non-profit Christian human rights organization, China Aid, the two women, and the grandson have been separated.
This is not the first time Xu Shizhen has got into trouble with Chinese authorities, who impose strict laws regarding practicing of religion other than those recognized by the state. Five years ago, this particular pastor had a run-in with officials when her then house church was seized and handed over to the control of Three-Self Patriotic Movement Church, a church which is run by the state. It was after this incident she founded her current home church, called Zion Church.
Many believe that this is a move by the Chinese government to show the state and the world just how serious it is about its new rules regarding regulating religion in order to enhance national security, dismantling and preventing extremism, and curbing the practice of faith by organizations which are not approved by the state. Keeping in mind that the arrest of the family happened just two weeks after the state’s new religion regulations came into effect, it is a high possibility.
Currently, it is mandatory for all types of religious institutions to register themselves. However, a lot of “underground churches” choose not to because registering automatically translates to being under the strict control and monitoring of the state. This includes, among many other requirements, submitting sermons to officials, prohibiting children and teens from attending Christian summer camps, Sunday schools and churches.
According to Brent Fulton, President of ChinaSource, full enforcement of such government regulations could seriously impact unregistered churches in China, which are many in number. It could majorly affect not just the church’s practices when it comes to meeting and worship, but also the church’s engagement with other areas like the media, Christian education, and interaction and contact with other churches in other parts of the world.