Date: February 1, 2021
Notice to all Christian Churches to abide by strict and tight implementations for COVID-19 control.
(Wenzhou, Zhejiang Province—Feb. 01, 2021) On January 26, following the confirmation of one new case of COVID-19 in Zhejiang, the Ethnic and Religious Affairs Bureau in Southern Zhejiang’s Lucheng District, Wenzhou City directed all sub-district departments and religious groups to suspend all “Christian venues” and religious gatherings. Also, on January 26, the Three-Self Patriotic Movement Committee and the Zhejiang Christian Association announced to all Christian Churches in the province to abide by strict and tight implementations, to halt religious activities to prevent and control the coronavirus epidemic.
Ethnic and Religious Affairs Bureau Notice.
The Ethnic and Religious Affairs Bureau notice stressed that as the situation regarding epidemic prevention of COVID-19 in China and Zhejiang situation still appears dismal, all should cooperate with the State Council and the Zhejiang government and abide by the preventative measures. The notice also:
- requests that all Christian churches in Zhejiang Province actively cooperate and comply with the local government’s overall deployment of epidemic prevention and control.
- requires the province to suspend all gatherings in “Christian venues” and post an announcement to halt all activities.
- directs eldercare facilities to implement closure management.
- requires all churches to cooperate with the government to establish daily inspections and detailed reports.
- advises the chairman or president of the Three-Self Patriotic Movement’s committee and Christian Council in every municipality to report on the epidemic every week.
The notice simultaneously states that to "ensure the stability of local Christian churches," these religious organizations are to "strengthen the refined prevention and control measures of rural churches, and actively cooperate with relevant local functional departments to handle unlawful gatherings in the Christian sector according to the law...." They are to "encourage brothers and sisters in the church to work on their faith at home and to pray for the prevention and control of the epidemic.”
An additional Chinese Communist Party (CCP) control measure the Ethnic and Religious Affairs Bureau in Southern Zhejiang’s Lucheng District, Wenzhou City issued January 16 to its sub-district departments and religious groups stated their decision to suspend all religious and folk beliefs activities in the entire region during the Lunar New Year’s travel period (January 28 to March 8). The same suspensions apply to temporary locations under the bureau’s management. The bureau further requests that the general public not attend any “religious venues” or participate in religious gatherings—under any circumstances.
Zhejiang’s latest epidemic preventive measures will completely shut down Christian and religious groups’ gatherings and venues in Zhejiang. The COVID-19 situation in this province, however, is not severe. The Zhejiang health commission’s latest reported data shows that on January 26, reports reveal only one new case of asymptomatic infection in Zhejiang (imported from Romania), with all close contacts of the affected person quarantined.
With Zhejiang experiencing only a single new case of asymptomatic infection, the closure of all religious venues and gatherings in the province appears puzzling. Zhejiang's 2018 demographic data shows the province has a "de jure" population of 5737 million with a dense (high) proportion of Christians. Since Zhejiang initiated measures to prevent and control COVID-19 infections on January 23 last year, the epidemic has been effectively controlled. Early last year, Wenzhou City, Zhejiang Province, ranked as the most severely affected area after China’s Wuhan and Hubei. Now, however, Wenzhou has successfully fought the epidemic. In the past year, Christians in Zhejiang Province have fully cooperated with the government’s preventative measures and halted all gatherings and activities. Since then, church services have not been fully restored to their status prior to the epidemic.Chen Guangsheng, leader of Zhejiang’s Epidemic Prevention and Control Group, stated at a press conference last year (June 2):
For more than four months, religious circles and believers in the province have actively cooperated with epidemic prevention work. They’ve suspended the opening of religious venues and halted all collective religious activities, hence effectively prevented the occurrence of clustered cases in the religious sector. [They have] ... taken the initiative to publicize epidemic
prevention knowledge to religious believers. Various religious organizations have donated money and resources, as well as raised hundreds of millions RMB in charity funds to support epidemic prevention in the province. The religious circles in Zhejiang have played an active role in fighting the epidemic.
As all Christian church activities across Zhejiang Province have been suspended, despite disproportionate, puzzling CCP control measures relating to COVID-19, believers encourage brothers and sisters in the church to work on their faith and —pray....
Report by Gao Zhensai, ChinaAid Special Correspondent
The Lord is far from the wicked,
But He hears the prayer of the righteous.
~ Proverbs 15:29 (NKJV)
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