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Christians charged for revealing crackdown

Posted By -NO AUTHOR- On 03/13/2004 @ 1:00 am In Front Page | Comments Disabled

Three Christians will appear in a Chinese court Monday for revealing details of China’s crackdown on unsanctioned churches.

Liu Fenngang, Xu Yonghai and Zhang Shengqi have been charged with “providing intelligence to overseas organizations” and will face charges in the Zhejiang provincial capital of Hangzhou, reported Voice of the Martyrs

Police detained Liu in October while he was researching a crackdown on Christian groups in Hangzhou’s Xiaoshan district.

Xu and Zhang were active members of Liu’s house church, said VOM. Authorities detained Xu, a psychiatrist, in Beijing last November. Zhang, an Internet writer, was arrested in Jilin province the same month.

The Hangzhou court only recently gave the men official notification of the charges. VOM sources said a verdict likely will be announced days, or possibly weeks, after the hearing.

“The world is watching,” said VOM spokesman Todd Nettleton. “Will these Christian men be given a fair and open trial? Is there any justice in China for those who refuse to register their religious activities with the government? These men revealed no state secrets. Their only crime is telling the world how China’s communist government treats Christians.”

A report last month by the evangelical magazine Christianity Today said more than 50 Chinese Christians, including three prominent Protestant leaders, have been arrested in a new crackdown that followed the release of a video and book in the United States documenting the massive growth of the unregistered, or “underground” church.

China has more than 15 million Christians in government-sanctioned churches but as many as 80 million in unregistered congregations branded by the communist regime as “illegal cults,” though estimates vary widely.

In January, police arrested three prominent Protestant leaders from Henan province, Qiao Chunling, 41, Deborah Xu Yongling, 58, and Zeng Guangbo, 35. Guangbo escaped two days after his arrest and remains in hiding, CT said.

The Chinese government considers all Protestant churches outside the official government-controlled Three-Self Patriotic Movement to be subversive. The official churches are restricted, to varying degrees around the country, in their doctrine and practice. Catholics also are restricted to a government-controlled church, which is not allowed to recognize the authority of the pope.

As WorldNetDaily reported, a video recently was smuggled out of China documenting the destruction of an unregistered church in Zhejiang Province, according to VOM.

In November, Chinese officials closed 125 places of worship, affected 3,000 Christians.

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