In a December 9, 2017 article entitled Persevering Saints, June Cheng interviews Fenggang Yang, a sociology professor who directs Purdue University’s Center on Religion and Chinese Society. Yang offers his insight on China’s restrictions on religion that are set to go into effect in February.
We offer excerpts from the interview. Read the entire article by tapping here.
- If enforced and implemented seriously, [these laws] will have a very significant negative effect on churches and other religious groups. Is it enforceable? I’m not sure whether the government will put resources into implementing it. The regulations said township-level governments are responsible for managing religious affairs, but most of these local governments don’t have a designated person for religious affairs. The government would need to increase the number of officials in tens of thousands of towns.
- Also, the restrictions make the penalty for renting spaces to house churches very heavy. Can the government enforce that? It’s cost the government so much to kick Shouwang Church in Beijing out of its building. That’s just one house church in Beijing. If there were five or 10, would police be used to control all those house churches? I doubt it.
- ‘The [Chinese] authorities’ intention is clear: Tighten up control, restrict the de facto freedom house churches have enjoyed. I’m not sure they can still do that: too many Christians, too many churches.’
- Around the year 2000, something changed regarding the government’s view of house churches. Before 2000, house churches were considered illegal and the government took actions against them. Since 2000, the government cracked down less on house churches as they became semi-legal, semi-illegal. Many house churches have come above ground and become public. Very few have been suppressed.
- The authorities’ intention is clear: Tighten up control, restrict the de facto freedom house churches have enjoyed. I’m not sure they can still do that: too many Christians, too many churches.
- Some house church leaders I spoke with said they are prepared to break down into small groups—they already have Bible studies and fellowship groups, so they would simply stop gathering as a congregation.
Source: World Magazine