International Christian Concern (ICC) has learned that local authorities raided a house church in Jiangxi province on December 2. The officials confiscated Bibles and stools from the house of Liao Hongcon, where the Sunday service was held.
According to a tweet by Father Francis Liu, officials forcibly removed the Bibles and stools from the house church in rural Pingxiang city during the service. The government has also targeted other house churches in the surrounding area in an effort to prevent them from congregating.
In a video shared by the Chinese Christian Fellowship of Righteousness, Liao Hongcon, a People’s Liberation Army veteran who leads the church, held up multiple signs to show his silent accusation of the government, reading, “I am a Chinese old warrior,” and, “I served my homeland by dedicating my youth to it, yet I can’t even safeguard my own freedom of religion?” He also reveals his ID card and veteran ID in the video to prove his identity.
“There were only a little more than a dozen senior citizens gathering at my home. They came and confiscated our Bibles and took our stools. [But] what crime did we commit? We only sang hymns and read Bibles!” Liao called the police to report the incident immediately, yet the police refused to send anyone to investigate.
“We need religious freedom!” Liao calls out in addition to demanding that the government return the Bibles and stools. The video ended with a short clip documenting the authorities’ raid on the church.
A house church leader in Pingxiang city, Liu Zongjie, told Radio Free Asia in January that he foresaw that the increased religious regulations that came into force in February would lead to a greater crackdown on house churches. His prediction rang true. Gina Goh, ICC’s Regional Manager, said:
“The disturbance of church services has become more widespread across China. From Henan, Sichuan, Guangdong, Jiangsu, to Jiangxi province, the repression of Christians, especially those who refuse to join state-sanctioned churches, has intensified. With Christmas coming, it is expected that more churches will be impacted by the ongoing crackdown. The international community must continue to raise concerns with China on its disregard for religious liberty and violations of human rights.”