New regulations may limit the religious freedom for millions of Chinese Christians – and for many of the numerous expatriates working there.
No one really knows the overall consequences of the new regulations that were enforced on February 1st.The first draft of the new directives was criticized by many religious leaders around the world when they were made public in 2016. Several leaders, both inside and outside China, have voiced their concerns about the final version as well. One of them is pastor Wan Yi in Early Rain Church in Changdu.
As far as faith is concerned, these new regulations are evil; as far as the constitution is concerned, they are illegal; as far as politics are concerned, they are foolish. As the pastor of a house church, I intend to peacefully reject this regulation’s legitimacy and implementation, he writes in an article published by China Source.
The churches many places in China have experienced tremendous church growth the past decades. In this period they have also, to a great extent, had the freedom to operate the way they wanted. Two years ago, Tentmaking Today started receiving upsetting reports that the situation was beginning to change. The newly imposed regulations fit well with the seemingly alarming picture that the reports are painting.
Freedom in all sectors of society has been shrinking since Xi Jinping came into power, and there is evidence that the government is also tightening its grip on the Three Self Patriotic Movement [the state-approved Church], said one analyst who were interviewed by World Watch Monitor last year.
Some expatriate workers Tentmaking Today has been in contact with, say that it is seemingly getting more and more difficult to operate and get a work visa in China. Others say they have still not experienced any difference compared to previous years.
By Steinar Opheim