Chinese police arrested more than 100 house-church leaders who were meeting for a retreat in the western Xinjiang Autonomous Region, according to a U.S.-based advocacy group.
The Christians were surrounded by more than 200 military police, Public Security Bureau officers and others who arrived at the scene July 12 in 46 police and military vehicles, reported the Voice of the Martyrs. No arrest warrants or official identification papers were shown by officers as they carried out the raid, VOM said.
Thirty of the leaders still are being held near the retreat center in Liu Gong Town and the others have been transported to their home areas where they are under detention of the local Public Security Bureau.
Several have been confined in the bureau’s “Transformation and Study Center” where they will be interrogated and pressured to renounce their faith, VOM said. Those who resist likely will be formally charged and tried.
The U.S.-based persecution monitor said the “co-workers meeting” was held to train and encourage Christian workers in China’s western frontier province, the home of the mostly Muslim Uighur people. The meeting was sponsored by the Ying Shang Church, a large house-church network headquartered in Anhui province.
VOM sources say participants from other provinces were treated differently after the arrest. In China, it is illegal to cross a provincial border to hold religious meetings without approval from the Religious Affairs Bureau and the state-sponsored Three-Self Patriotic Movement church.
VOM said Wang Yu Lian, a leader in the Ying Shang Church for more than 20 years, is among the arrested. He is being held near the camp in Xinjiang.
Also arrested was Jin Da, the 34-year-old general secretary of the Three-Self Patriotic Movement of Ningbo City, Zhejiang province. Jin has 46 TSPM churches under his leadership but reportedly is supportive of unregistered house churches.
Also last week in China, 40 house church leaders were arrested while attending a training seminar in Cheng Du City, Sichuan province, VOM said. Also arrested was a Taiwanese couple who were leading the seminar.
All 40 have been released, but the whereabouts of the Taiwanese couple is unknown. VOM sources say it is likely they will be deported and blacklisted by the Chinese government.
“China wants us to think their people have freedom to practice religion,” said Nettleton. “These cases and the hundreds like them show that to be a complete farce.”
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.
As WND reported in April, another Christian pastor imprisoned by the Chinese government feared if he would die because of injuries suffered while in custody.
In another case reported by WND, a church leader imprisoned in China was crippled by a severe beating because he had led 50 fellow inmates to the Christian faith.
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