China demands share of church donations amid stricter religious regulations

The Chinese state has implemented stricter regulations, including demanding a share of church money and donations in its ongoing efforts to clamp down on Christian churches.

According to China Aid, a watchdog that monitors and exposes Christian persecutions in China, the communist and atheist state recently implemented a tighter grip on Zhejiang province by demanding churches to submit their church income and donations to the government.

A view of Sheshan Cathedral and seminary in the outskirts of Shanghai October 28, 2013. | REUTERS/Aly Song

The publication also cited an unnamed source who described the current state of affairs for churches in Pingyang County, Wenzhou.

"The government officials will interfere with church affairs, managing our donations and some large-scale projects," the source said. "We have to obtain their (the government's) permission if we would like to buy equipment or decorate the church. We will have to ask for permission for any expenses more than a few thousand yuan."

Earlier this year, China Aid reported at least 2,000 state-backed church demolitions in Zhejiang province. About 50 of these demolitions took place in Wenzhou. The authorities use the country's "Three Rectification and One Demolition" beautification campaign as an excuse to declare most church buildings or crosses as illegally constructed or in violation to the state's policy on building constructions.

Aside from its beautification campaign, the Communist Party also pressures churches to observe the "five transformations" that include "localizing religion (through adopting local architectural styles for church buildings), standardizing management, indigenizing theology (by contextualizing sermons), financial transparency and adapting Christian teachings."

A Christian member of the Houshi Church, the largest house church in Guiyang that's also targeted by the state in its religious persecution, granted an interview with China Aid in conditions of anonymity, where he revealed that some of their arrested church members had discovered a document confirming the existence of a state-run command and control center dedicated to persecuting Christian churches.

Despite or because of the persecutions, the Chinese Christians believe that Christianity is only growing in the country.

He said, "In China, even though there is so much persecution, the church still grows."