South China Church

A banned Evangelical movement in China, marked by its underground status and charismatic practices.

The South China Church (SCC) is an Evangelical denomination that emerged in China around 1990 or 1991, originating as a branch from Peter Xu’s “All Ranges Church,” also recognized as the Born Again Movement. This formation marked the beginning of a religious group that would soon face significant scrutiny and legal challenges from Chinese authorities. The leadership of Gong Shengliang, the church’s head, became a focal point of controversy, leading to his sentence of death, which was later commuted to life imprisonment. The church has been labeled as a cult by the Chinese government, a designation that stems from accusations of fundamentalism and charismatic excesses, alongside more serious allegations of misconduct by Gong, including molestation of female members and encouraging violence against perceived adversaries.

Despite these allegations and the official ban, the South China Church has garnered support from various groups internationally concerned with religious persecution. The church operates underground in China, making it difficult to ascertain the exact size of its membership. However, it is estimated to have tens of thousands of members, signifying a considerable following despite the governmental pressures it faces.

Gong Shengliang’s imprisonment has been a significant concern for human rights groups, highlighting issues of religious freedom and the treatment of unorthodox religious groups by the Chinese government. Reports suggest that while Gong’s teachings and personal conduct have been questioned, many imprisoned members of unorthodox religious movements in China, including those affiliated with the SCC, are nonviolent. The treatment of these individuals raises broader questions about the balance between state control and freedom of religious expression in China.

The survival of the South China Church, despite ongoing persecution, illustrates the resilience of underground religious movements in the face of state opposition. It continues to operate clandestinely, with its activities and membership largely hidden from public view. The scheduled release of Gong Shengliang in April 2024 might mark a new chapter for the church and its followers, potentially altering its status and the dynamics of religious practice in China’s heavily regulated spiritual landscape​​​​​​.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *