China Creates ‘Church-Free Zones’ Around Schools and Requires Churches to Submit the Names of Their Youth Members

Members of the congregation clean the unofficial catholic church after Sunday service in Majhuang village, Hebei Province, China. | REUTERS/Thomas Peter

The Chinese government is creating “church-free zones” around schools and is requiring places of worship to submit the names of their youth members.

Bitter Winter magazine, which reports on Christian persecution in China, said it recently obtained a copy of the document, titled “Implementation Plan on the Special Governance of Private Christian Gathering Sites” in the northern Shanxi Province.

Another document, issued by the Religious Affairs Bureau, declares: “All private Christian gathering sites around universities and colleges, as well as on-campus activity sites, are to be shut down in accordance with the law. Criticism and (re)education of participating teachers and students is to be carried out by the school authorities.”

The church closures affect all houses of worship, including the government-approved Three-Self Church. When talking about the forced closures near schools, government officials have warned that “there will be no reversal of the decision in the future.”

As for the demands that churches hand over a list of university students who attend gatherings, believers have said they’re worried the government will use it to affect their employment prospects.

Speaking of church meeting venues that were closed in 2018 in Hebei, Shanxi, and Shandong, one believer who wasn’t named said: “By being so strict in preventing minors from believing in God, the Chinese Communist Party is seeking to sever the roots so that the next generation loses its faith.”

As various persecution watchdog groups, including International Christian Concern, have noted, the crackdown on churches in China, which extends beyond churches closing near schools, stems from the new Regulations on Religious Affairs that was issued last year.

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SOURCE: Christian Post, Stoyan Zaimov