Harassed by Authorities for Years, Fuyang Maizhong Reformed Church Raided Yet Again

In January, police officers from the Economic and Technological Development Zone Branch of the Fuyang Municipal Public Security Bureau interrupted a children’s prayer meeting at the Fuyang Maizhong Reformed Church and conducted a raid.

Abandoned Wuhu City Protestant Church
Abandoned Wuhu City Protestant Church (Photo by AlexelA, Shutterstock.com)

Three Christians leading the children—Dai Chuanli, Wang Dandan and Ma Jiahui—were placed in administrative detention for fifteen days pending further investigations.

The Fuyang Maizhong Reformed Church is no stranger to such raids, having been harassed and surveilled since 2018 when its leader signed a letter of protest of house church pastors against a new Regulation on Religious Affairs that went into force early that year.

“House churches” are Protestant communities that do not subscribe to the government-controlled “Three-Self Church Patriotic Movement,” the official government supervisory organ for Protestantism in the People's Republic of China. The Regulation on Religious Affairs targeted and sought to destroy the so-called “gray market” of temples, churches and mosques that operate independently of Chinese Communist Party (CCP) control.

Until the Regulation, though gray market houses of worship were illegal, it was not illegal to belong to one. All that changed with the new regulation. Some house churches tried to go along with the new regulations, but when the CCP shut down the Beijing Zion Church—one of the largest house churches in the city—after a campaign of surveillance, intimidation of church members, attempted bribery of a pastor, interrogation and finally coercing the church’s landlord to cancel its lease—it was clear that the intent was to shut down all but government-controlled houses of worship.

The letter of protest, signed by hundreds of pastors, accused the CCP of “violent actions” that “attempt to alter and distort the Christian faith.” The letter states “These include demolishing crosses on church buildings, violently removing expressions of faith like crosses and couplets hanging on Christians’ homes, forcing and threatening churches to join religious organizations controlled by the government, forcing churches to hang the national flag or to sing secular songs praising the State and political parties, banning the children of Christians from entering churches and receiving religious education, and depriving churches and believers of the right to gather freely.

“We believe that these unjust actions are an abuse of government power and have led to serious conflicts between political and religious parties in Chinese society. These actions infringe on the human freedoms of religion and conscience and violate the universal rule of law.”

The letter, sent in September 2018, concludes, “Under no circumstances will we lead our churches to join a religious organization controlled by the government, to register with the religious administration department, or to accept any kind of affiliation. We also will not accept any ‘ban’ or ‘fine’ imposed on our churches due to our faith. For the sake of the gospel, we are prepared to bear all losses—even the loss of our freedom and our lives.”

After enduring governmental shadowing, persecution and intimidation for several years, the Fuyang Maizhong Reformed Church was attacked on October 8, 2021. Elder Chang Shun, leading a prayer meeting in a private home, was taken away by the police. His case was repeatedly postponed until he was administratively detained in September 2023. He was released but detained again on November 3, 2023, this time with two other parishioners.

Two weeks earlier, an office building where members of the church had gathered for a Bible study session was raided, and seven congregants were detained for several hours. Other church members have reported constant harassment by the police.

The CCP’s crackdown on house churches that refuse to join the regime-controlled Three-Self Church was taken up a notch by a strategy initiated in December by Xi Jinping at the National Conference on Work Related to Religious Affairs.

That month the U.S. State Department designated China a Country of Particular Concern for its unrelenting and egregious abuses of the religious rights of its people.


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China Country of Particular Concern U.S. State Department Fuyang Maizhong Reformed Church House churches Regulation on Religious Affairs