Adventist Church Suffers from Chinese Government Suppression – and More News Shorts

In this week’s news round-up, Adventist and other Christian churches suffer from Chinese government suppression, an Adventist choral group in Zimbabwe is recording a new album, and Adventist schools in Washington and West Virginia are sued for abuse and sexual assault of students.

Adventist and Other Christian Churches Suffer from Chinese Government Suppression. In March, about a dozen Chinese police officers and local officials suddenly showed up at the Seventh-day Adventist church in Nanyang and made the frightened congregants disperse. They ordered that the cross, a painting of the Last Supper and Bible verse calligraphy be taken down. And they demanded that all services stop until each person along with the church itself was registered with the government, said the shopkeeper, Guo, who gave his last name only from fear of retribution. The 62-year-old Chinese shopkeeper had waited nearly his entire adult life to see his dream of building a church come true — a brick house with a sunny courtyard and spacious hall with room for 200 believers. Under President Xi Jinping, China's most powerful leader since Mao Zedong, believers are seeing their freedoms shrink dramatically even as the country undergoes a religious revival. Experts and activists say that as he consolidates his power, Xi is waging the most severe systematic suppression of Christianity in the country since religious freedom was written into the Chinese constitution in 1982.

The crackdown on Christianity is part of a broader push by Xi to "Sinicize" all the nation's religions by infusing them with "Chinese characteristics" such as loyalty to the Communist Party. Over the last several months, local governments across the country have shut down hundreds of private Christian "house churches." A statement last week from 47 in Beijing alone said they had faced "unprecedented" harassment since February. A dozen Chinese Protestants interviewed by the Associated Press described gatherings that were raided, interrogations, and surveillance. One pastor said hundreds of his congregants were questioned individually about their faith. Like Guo, the majority requested that their names be partly or fully withheld because they feared punishment from authorities. From Beaumont Enterprise, “Christian heartland opens window into fight for China's soul.”

Zimbabwe Seventh-day Adventist Choral Group Spreads Gospel through Song. The Gospel Ensemble (TGE), a Zimbabwe Seventh-day Adventist choral group, plans to spread the word of God to all the corners of the world. The Chitungwiza-based 40-member group music director Simbarashe Masamha said, “While many choose to sing to entertain people in different tunes and styles, our group sings Christ in songs and not songs in Christ…We are looking forward to the soon returning of Christ, and the DVD album [being recorded] seeks to alert the world that it is high time we all live in Christ.” From The Sunday Mail, “The Gospel Ensemble readies new album.”

Washington State SDA School Sued for Jailed Former Principal’s Child Sex Crimes. A King County civil lawsuit claims leaders for Mountain View Christian School near Sequim, Washington, withheld knowledge that a former teacher convicted of sex crimes was known to be inappropriately touching other students. Davis Law Group of Seattle seeks an unspecified monetary amount in damages from the Western Washington Corporation of Seventh-day Adventists that oversees the school with a trial, tentatively starting October 1, in King County Superior Court. The law firm represents parents of a then 10-year-old Sequim girl victimized by her former teacher/principal Doug Allison at the Sequim-area school in the 2015-16 school year. Court documents state the law group and family allege the school and the church corporation “failed to prevent the ongoing and preventable molestation of (the minor).” Allison and his wife Judy Allison were hired to work at Mountain View Christian School in August 2013 where he served as principal and taught grades 4-8. Court documents claim church corporation and school leaders did not investigate Allison’s past in California despite at least one existing abuse allegation in California prior to his hiring nor did they act after parents complained during his employment in the Sequim parochial school for allegedly hugging students inappropriately several months prior to his arrest. Allison was sentenced in September 2016 to 26-and-a-half years in prison after pleading guilty to two counts of first-degree child molestation and two counts of first-degree child rape for crimes against two students in the school. He is currently serving his sentence in Airway Heights Corrections Center west of Spokane. Heidi Baumgartner, communication director for the Washington Conference of Seventh-day Adventists, said she cannot comment on pending litigation. From Sequim Gazette, “Family sues church over sex crimes at Christian school near Sequim.”

Many SDA Entities Sued After Abuse Occurred at Shuttered Miracle Meadows School. Three cases have been filed against Miracle Meadows School in Salem, West Virginia, even though the school is permanently closed. The suits allege bodily injury, invasion of privacy, and false imprisonment. Seventh-day Adventist Church-North American Division Inc., Advent Home Learning Center Inc., Blodel Senior, E.A. Sutherland Education Association Inc., Adventist Laymen's Services & Industries, Outpost Centers International, Columbia Union Conference Association of Seventh-day Adventists, Inc., Mountain View Conference Association of Seventh-day Adventists, Miracle Meadows School, Susan Gayle Clark, Timothy Arrington, the Layman Foundation, ASI Missions Inc., and Kingsley Whitsett were all named defendants in the suit. F.F. and L.F., as parents of Z.F., C.J. and K.W., also allege the defendants committed education malpractice and other wrongful acts upon many minor children while the youngsters were students at the school, according to three cases filed in Kanawha Circuit Court. The plaintiffs allege their children suffered significant abuse at the hands of the defendants as well as other children who were enrolled there. The defendants, the suit says, owed a legal duty to the plaintiffs to care for them and to not be negligent, but they repeatedly breached their duty of care.

The plaintiffs say the defendants failed to inform parents of the incidents of child abuse and neglect as well as failing to inform the appropriate authorities. The defendants also negligently failed to ensure that its employees had proper and adequate training and experience to protect the students from harm, according to the suits. The plaintiffs, the suits say, suffered serious emotional distress because of the defendants' actions. The plaintiffs also say the defendants were aware of the child abuse and mistreatment as far back as December 2000. Susan Gayle Clark, founder and director of Miracle Meadows, was sentenced to jail time and probation in 2016. From West Virginia Record, “Three cases allege abuse by Christian boarding school.”

Pam Dietrich taught English at Loma Linda Academy for 26 years and served there eight more years as the 7-12 librarian. She lives in Redlands, California.

Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons

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This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at http://spectrummagazine.org/node/8945

When one reads the outbursts of Franklin Graham and his ilk, Even the dogmatism of Ted Wilson one can only dispare for the future of Christianity in the united States. Instead of the Brotherhood of man and the Fatherhood of God we have BOMFOG…

What are you referring to specifically?