A Christian man in a Chinese village was fined nearly $25,000 this month after a government body found him guilty of hosting an unauthorized Christmas celebration in violation of multiple anti-religion laws.
Niu Guobao, a Christian man who lives in Huang Zhang Liang village in the province of Henan, hosted more than 40 Christians, including 20 children, for his Christmas event in celebration of the birth of the Christ Child. They prayed. They sang hymns. Soon, though, police raided the gathering.
Niu’s Christmas celebration will be costly.
Bitter Winter, a religious liberty watchdog, reported this week that Chinese officials fined Niu 160,000 yuan ($24,693 USD) for hosting the party.
Niu was in violation of at least three laws:
- Hosting an unauthorized religious gathering under Article 71 of the Regulation of Religious Affairs.
- Hosting minors at a religious gathering.
- Owning Christian calendars and unauthorized religious books.
Bitter Winter called the $24,693 fine an “astronomical sum for a villager.”
“This money will remain with the local Religious Affairs Bureau, a kind of governmental agency that is often in need of cash. Heavy fines are not only imposed to terrorize religious dissidents, but are also a way to finance the bureaucrats,” Bitter Winter reported.
As Christians Headlines reported last month, Christians in China experienced “worse than usual” persecution this Christmas season.
Riot police in Beijing prevented Christians from entering Catholic and Protestant churches, placing signs on the doors reading: “Due to the pandemic, all religious activities have been halted.” Police in Fujian province stopped Christians from singing Christmas songs in a shopping mall, even though the believers had been invited to perform. Chinese schools even told children that “Christmas should not be celebrated, and gifts should not be exchanged,” Bitter Winter said.
Ironically, though, the Chinese government profits financially from the worldwide celebration of Christmas, with about 80 percent of Christmas ornaments in the U.S. and Europe made in China.
“The CCP wins by manipulating COVID-19 regulations to crack down on Christmas in China, and wins again by selling Christmas ornaments made in China to the Westerners, perhaps in part made through the slave labor of jailed Christians or Uyghurs,” Bitter Winter reported.
Photo credit: ©Getty Images/udra
Michael Foust has covered the intersection of faith and news for 20 years. His stories have appeared in Baptist Press, Christianity Today, The Christian Post, the Leaf-Chronicle, the Toronto Star and the Knoxville News-Sentinel.