These activities are part of a larger strategy on the part of the CCP to shut down any kind of organizing outside of the party, according to persecution watchdog Open Doors USA, which ranks China 23rd on its list of 50 countries where it is most difficult to be a Christian. According to estimates, there are more than 60 million Christians in China.
To ensure Christians are unable to meet, China’s Communist Party reportedly demolishes churches and repurposes places of worship, turning them into entertainment venues, factories, or “cultural centers” promoting President Xi Jinping’s socialist values.
Bitter Winter, a publication that monitors religious liberty violations in China, reports that in April, the Guangxin district government in Shangrao city shut down an old local church venue for “organizing illegal gathering” and refusing to join the Three-Self Church.
The next month, it was converted into a “Civilization Practice Station for a New Era,” a nationwide project launched by the CCP in July 2018 to encourage people of faith to abandon religions and follow the Party.
“Party propaganda posters were posted everywhere in the venue, and table-tennis tables were brought inside,” a church member told Bitter Winter, adding that the church congregation is now forced to gather in homes of believers.
The church was just one of many shuttered by the CCP in recent months.
In August, at a meeting of Three-Self Church directors in Bailu, a town in Lianyungang’s Guannan county, town officials explained that empty churches must be rented or sold.
One of the churches, which had been unused since its closure in June last year, was rented out in August, while another was sold the same month. Another church, Chenzhuang Church was sold for a mere 20,000 RMB (about $ 3,000.)
“The government is eradicating churches,” the church director said.