Home churches in Hangzhou shut down ahead of G20 summit

By Zhao Yusha Source:Global Times Published: 2016/7/22 1:18:01

The city government of Hangzhou in East China's Zhejiang Province has begun to ban large-scale religious activities to safeguard security for the upcoming Group of 20 (G20) summit. 

According to a statement published on a website affiliated with the government of Hangzhou's Xiaoshan district on July 15, all religious activities sites in the town of Jinhua are banned from holding large-scale activities from July 1 to September 9 - shortly after the G20 summit - in order to create a safe environment for the meeting.

The statement also said that minors are also not allowed to participate in any religious activities. There are 13 religious sites in Jinhua township: eight Buddhist sites and five Christian sites.

However, a pastor from a home church in Zhejiang told the Global Times on condition of anonymity that several home churches in the area have been shut down by the local government.

"During their preparations for the G20 summit, all houses and offices are required to register with the government and report how many people are living in the residence and for what purpose," said the pastor. He added that because home church members usually gather in office buildings not registered as religious sites, local police shut down the churches after receiving tip-offs.

He said that the local government has known of the churches' existence for years and that their shutdown is mainly due to the G20 summit, because they are "not registered and illegal."

China's Regulation on Religious Affairs stipulates that citizens' collective religious activities shall be held in registered religious sites and organized by the site or a religious body.

On Wednesday, a government official in Huaqiu, Southwest China's Sichuan Province denied a Voice of America report claiming that the local government forced Christian residents to leave home churches by forbidding their children to take the national college entrance examinations, or gaokao.

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