House Church Talk - home churches in the news

David Anderson david at
Sat Apr 10 20:08:20 EDT 2004


(I am behind on my private email. Hope to be caught up soon.)

Human rights Issues in China, including religious freedom, surfaced again 
this week. 

It is a mistake, btw, to believe that the Church is China is exclusively 
underground or even Protestant. I would be very interested in seeing some 
documents as to how the Chinese house churches regard the "registered 
churches" and their "clergy."

Are there any modern Watchmen Nee's?

      David Anderson

>From earlier this week:

China Arrests Another Catholic Bishop
     By Patrick Goodenough Pacific Rim Bureau Chief
     April 07, 2004

Pacific Rim Bureau - Chinese rights campaigners report the arrest of 
another underground Catholic bishop, even as the U.S. struggles to win 
support for a resolution critical of China at the annual United Nations 
human rights session in Geneva. Security policemen arrived unexpectedly 
Monday at Bishop Jia Zhi Guo's home in Zheng Ding, Hebei province, and 
took him away without explanation, the U.S.-based Cardinal Kung 
Foundation reported.

The organization, which monitors and campaigns against Chinese 
persecution of Catholics, said it could not establish where he had been 
taken. It said his arrest came a month after another underground bishop, 
Wei Jingyi, was detained for more than a week in Heilongjiang province.

Wei's release came after the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and 
Vatican both demanded an explanation from the Chinese government.

The Roman Catholic Church has been banned in China since Beijing cut ties 
with the Vatican in the 1950s. The communist government then established 
an official "patriotic" denomination, which is called Catholic but is not 
loyal to, or recognized by, the Pope. Anthony Lam, a researcher at the 
Hong Kong-based Holy Spirit Study Center, said Wednesday Jia was about 69 
years old, and was ordained in 1980. He had later been consecrated as a 
bishop in secret.

Lam said it had become common practice for the Chinese authorities to 
crackdown on church leaders ahead of Easter or other important Christian 
occasions, to remove them from their flock.

He said the Catholic diocese in Hong Kong -- to which the study center is 
attached -- closely monitored developments on the mainland, hopeful of 
improvements. "It is difficult to change the government's old mentality 
[towards the church]," he said.

In Geneva, the U.S. is seeking support from other members of the 
53-nation U.N. Commission on Human Rights (UNCHR) for a resolution it has 
introduced focusing on China's rights record.

Kim Holmes, U.S. Assistant Secretary at the Bureau of International 
Organization Affairs, told reporters it was an "uphill battle" winning 
backing for the motion. In previous years, the U.S. has sponsored a China 
resolution at the annual gathering in Geneva, only to have China's allies 
stymie the effort, usually by using a procedural "no action" motion to 
avoid having the U.S. resolution discussed.

China's official People's Daily said in a recent opinion piece that the 
U.S. motion at Geneva was "doomed to fail," just as it had done on ten 
previous occasions. The U.S. Commission on International Religious 
Freedom said it deplored the response of China, which it said "has chosen 
to see the resolution as a confrontation and not as a chance to 
demonstrate its sincerity about implementing its human rights 
obligations." Holmes said the U.S. was well aware of the history. "We 
went into this with our eyes open but we felt nonetheless that it is 
absolutely necessary that we take this stand." He said some members of 
the UNHCR were themselves human rights abusers. Among the current 
membership are nations widely criticized for violating human rights, 
including Cuba, Zimbabwe, Sudan and Saudi Arabia.

U.S. officials have frequently accused abusers of getting onto the UNCHR 
motivated primarily by the desire to avoid scrutiny.

This year's six-week UNCHR session ends on April 23.

'Patriotic' Church

After China cut ties with the Vatican, mainstream Catholicism was driven 

Campaigners say many priests have been jailed for refusing to renounce 
the authority of the Pope, but that despite the persecution, millions of 
Catholics continue to worship in secret.

Non-Catholic Christians also face repression.

According to Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW), all religious activity 
in China has to take place within one of five official bodies falling 
under the government's Religious Affairs Bureau.

They are the Patriotic Catholic Association, the Protestant Three-Self 
Patriotic Movement, the Chinese Buddhist Association, the Chinese Islamic 
Association and the Chinese Daoist Association.

"All unregistered religious activity is held to be illegal," says CSW. 
"The registration policy has been particularly rigorously implemented 
over the last few years, making it the main vehicle for state control and 
oppression of religious activities. This has resulted in severe 
violations of religious freedom and other core human rights." Activists 
say China has in recent years also begun to classify harmless religious 
groups as cults.

In a white paper released last week and entitled "Progress in China's 
Human Rights Cause in 2003," the government's State Council held up as 
evidence of freedom of religion the fact that the country had more than 
100,000 venues for religious activities, 300,000 clergy, 3,000 national 
and local religious organizations and 74 religious schools.

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