China Detains Worshippers at Unsanctioned Church

Voice of America News reports: “Chinese police arrested at least 30 members of an underground Protestant church in Beijing Sunday (April 17, 2011) in a growing crackdown on dissent across China.

The U.S.-based Christian rights group China Aid reported that police rounded up members of the Shouwang House Church as they attempted to hold a service in a public plaza in the western part of the city. More than 150 church members were detained last week for attempting to meet in the same space.

China Aid head Bob Fu said two of the church’s pastors, Jin Tianming and Li Xiaobai, were detained Saturday evening and released Sunday morning. Other church leaders have been put under house arrest.

The Shouwang House Church, which is not registered with the government, was evicted from its usual gathering place, a restaurant, earlier this month.

China allows Christian worshippers to attend state-sanctioned churches, but more than 50 million are believed to worship privately at unsanctioned, so-called ‘house’ churches.

The latest arrests come amid a growing crackdown on dissenters in China, including artists, lawyers, writers and intellectuals, for allegedly calling for street rallies similar to those in the Arab world…” (When Russia marches in the rapidly approaching global battle – Ezekiel 38 & 39 – China joins with her – Daniel 11:44; Revelation 16:12; Revelation 9:14 – 18. It will be a time of slaughter for the millions of converts to Christ after the Rapture. Study Revelation 7:9, 14; 13:15; 20:4. See also the next two reports.)

China detains Protestant Shouwang devotees

BBC News reports: “At least 20 Chinese Protestants have been detained as they tried to gather for an Easter service in Beijing.

The worshippers, from the Shouwang church, were trying to hold an outdoor service because are prevented from using their own premises.

Police have recently arrested dozens of people from the church.

The authorities have also been carrying out a wider suppression of dissent – harassing foreign reporters and detaining lawyers and activists.

The most high-profile detainee, artist Ai Weiwei, was taken by police as he tried to board a flight earlier this month.

His family say they do not know where he is, whether he has been charged with an offence, or even whether he has been formally arrested.

China’s constitution guarantees freedom of religion, but the Communist Party tries to control where people worship.

There are an estimated 70 million Christians in the country, about 20 million of whom attend government-approved churches.

The rest worship with unregistered groups known as ‘house’ churches.

Such groups are broadly tolerated, but Shouwang leaders have annoyed the authorities in recent weeks by insisting on trying to hold services in the open.

Shouwang is one of Beijing’s biggest so-called underground Churches, with over 1,000 members…”

Underground Christians fear China crackdown

CNN reports: “This calm denim-clad 28-year-old identifies herself only as Water, based on the Chinese characters that make up her first name. She has been deemed an enemy of the state, an unlikely label for a petite and well-educated woman who eschews violence and confrontation.

Here in China, Water is living her life in fear, under the close watch of the Chinese government for practicing Christianity at Beijing’s underground Shouwang Church. She requested her Chinese name not be published for safety reasons.

Shouwang Church has came under fire by Chinese authorities three weeks ago, when the government ordered the church to cease all activity until further notice. The Chinese government has stated that Shouwang operates unlawfully. To be recognized, the church must register to be a state-sanctioned operation, which includes censoring of certain religious materials…

Shouwang is one of China’s largest Protestant Christian groups not sanctioned by the Chinese government. From 2005 to 2007, Shouwang actively applied for registration with the government but was unsuccessful…

Water says she merely wants a margin of religious freedom, but her pursuit has been rocky. Over the past three weeks, Water is followed by the police at home and near the church site. She was detained two weeks ago at the police station overnight. Her mother, who is also a Christian, and her father, who is not, have been harassed, she said.

‘My father, who is not a believer, even came to visit me at the police station where I was held,’ Water recalled.

‘Every day I face a new situation with new difficulties. I try to ignore them but their approach every day is different,’ she explained. ‘They make my daily life pretty challenging.’

Water, who started practicing Christianity because she felt the Communist Party ‘left [her] empty,’ says that she prays for her country to find ‘strength’ on a daily basis. At the same time, she is realistic about the risks she has taken.

‘Personally I don’t know how long I can last because the pressure is pretty intense, because they try to harass your family, your workplace and your landlord. They want to evict you,’ she told CNN. ‘They want to control you.’…”