06/28/2020 China (International Christian Concern) – Since January 26, 2019, authorities across China have begun interfering in the direct management of state-run places of worship. The State Administration for Religious Affairs and the Ministry of Civil Affairs started implementing the Template for a Charter of Legal Persons in Religious Activity Venues, with the goal to take over the decision-making ability from the people of faith.
According to Bitter Winter, later on April 1, an order was passed to require all religious venues to establish a “democratic management committee,” which “consist of clergy members, representatives of religious citizens, and other relevant members.” Furthermore, only members who support the policies established by the CCP may be appointed; the committee removes those who show an ounce of dissent.
The Religious Affairs Bureau in Anyang city, Henan province, designates a clergy member as the committee’s director without elections from the church members. Those who have the people’s votes, but not the approval of the CCP will not take office.
A pastor from Guangdong lamented, “The committee is just lip service. The Template requires to ‘discuss with religious affairs institutions and make joint decisions,’ which gives the government an even more significant advantage to manage religious venues directly.”