China bans religious weddings and funerals upon deal renewal with Vatican

Published (HKT): 2020.10.29 15:46

Chinese authorities have extended religious crackdown to funeral and wedding ceremonies, imposing restrictions and bans. Some church members believed the Vatican’s policy of compromise has lifted the pressure from the Chinese Communist Party, allowing more religious persecutions in mainland China.

Bitter Winter, a magazine on religious liberty and human rights in China, reports several incidents where religious funerals were disrupted and banned.

In Henan, a dozen police officers blocked the funeral procession for a 73-year-old church member in Xinye County, seized the flags with Bible verses and detained some believers. Similarly, in the city of Anyang in the same province, local government officials threatened to arrest anyone who attended the funeral held by a Christian family, who had invited church choir and musicians to sing in the ceremony.

In the province of Hubei, officials stormed a funeral for an elderly church member and dispersed attendees, when they were singing hymns by the coffin. Among them were a pastor and members of a Three-Self church, which is recognized by the authorities.

The latest ban also targeted ceremonies of other religions. According to the report, a lay Buddhist in Liaoning was twice arrested for reciting sutras for the dead and was charged with “privately setting up a religious venue.” His house was subsequently demolished by officials.

Speaking to Voice of America, Wong, a Christian from Wenzhou, revealed the double standards of funeral parlors, which barred religious funerals from using amplifiers or renting large venues. Such restrictions have been in place as early as late 2018, he added.

Wedding ceremonies have come under growing restrictions as well. In Luoyang of Henan, weddings held at churches must obtain approval by the authorities. Minors are not allowed to attend while adults must register under their real name.

Pastor Yang from Taizhou of Zhejiang said the latest intervention is only the beginning. “If you don’t resist, the authorities will extend it to other areas.” He cited the removal of crosses as a precedent, where the lack of resistance encouraged the government to widen the scale of control.

ChinaAid said China was under more pressure than the Catholic church in the recent renewal of the controversial Vatican-Sino agreement, but the Holy See has lost the opportunity to leverage for improvement of the situation in mainland China.

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