by Thomas D. Williams
Local communist authorities in China’s Guizhou province have announced the termination of welfare and social security benefits for Christians who are caught attending church services.
One local source said that officials had announced that practicing Christians would no longer be eligible for social security benefits or old-age insurance. County officials then “called on the government in the towns and villages to order believers to sign [a guarantee], stating that if they gathered again, their welfare would be cut off,” the source said.
According to the U.S.-based rights group China Aid, the announcement was made on July 2, but has only now been publicized. The Chinese government has ratcheted up its persecution of “unofficial” religion not under government control, especially against Christianity which is experiencing dramatic growth in the country.
In a similar attack on thriving Christian churches, China’s Communist party recently issued an ultimatum to parents warning that if their children do not stop attending church, they will be barred from college or entering the military.
In late June, a local government office in the same Guizhou province sent a notice to all of the schools in the local area announcing the decision, in an effort to discourage citizens from attending independent house churches and to switch to a church under government control.
Members of the Huaqiu Church were coerced into signing a document stating that they would no longer take minors to church, China Aid reported. Christian children attending the church are no longer eligible to take the college entrance exam or be considered for admittance into a military academy.
Moreover, parents who take their children to church will be sued.
Chinese law prohibits children under the age of 18 from receiving any religious education, and the government-approved Protestant church, the “Three-Self Patriotic Movement,” explicitly bans its members from bringing their children up in the Christian faith, labeling the practice “brainwashing.”
In the past three years, more than 1,500 churches have been demolished or had their crosses removed by Communist officials in Zhejiang, and a number of pastors and lawyers who opposed the campaign have been imprisoned on trumped-up charges.
In its annual report on international freedom released Wednesday, the U.S. State Department denounced China’s continued suppression of religious liberty.
Despite China’s official policy of “freedom of religious belief,” the report states, in practice,
“the government exercised state control over religion and restricted the activities and personal freedom of religious adherents when these were perceived to threaten state or Chinese Communist Party (CCP) interests.”