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Chinese Police Arrest Christians During Easter Services

Chinese Police Arrest Christians During Easter Services

As Easter approached a few days ago, the leaders of an unofficial Christian church in China proclaimed their intention to defy Communist Party officials and hold outdoor Easter services.  And sure enough, hundreds of church members were detained in their homes and 36 others were taken into custody after they tried to hold an Easter worship service in a public square.  This new confrontation comes amid an increasing crackdown on unregistered faith groups.  The conflict, overall, has inspired a condemnation from the US Commission on International Religious Freedom and raises questions about the state of religious freedom in China. 

The Shouwang Church was established in 1993 and, according to its leaders, has sought government registration since 2006, but has been repeatedly refused.  This is because the Chinese government, despite their claim to promote religious freedom, requires religious groups to gain government approval before they can legally gather.  Earlier this month, hundreds of church members were rounded up and detained after they tried to hold another public worship service.  The Shouwang Church has over 1,000 members.  The public prayer services have been a response to the government’s attempts to restrict their access to property purchased in 2009.

“Beijing has again responded with ruthless intolerance to peaceful religious activity,” said Leonard Leo, the chair of the US Commission on International Religious Freedom.  “The Shouwang Church tried to play by rules that the Chinese government keeps changing.  Beijing’s action further alienates the fast growing number of religious believers in China, particularly during Easter, the most sacred week in Christianity.”

These detentions come in the midst of a larger crackdown on dissent in China in an attempt to forestall events like the recent Jasmine Revolution.  But because of the recent surge of religious fervor, particularly among Christians, it seems unlikely that most religious people will take these restrictions lying down.  The Chinese government’s actions signal a renewed attempt to control independent religious practice, but the Shouwang Church shows no signs that they will accept these controls.

“The devil Satan has taken advantage of the authority God has granted to the national government and is seeking to destroy God’s church,” said Shouwang pastor Jin Tianming after the arrests earlier this month.  A statement after the Easter detainments compared the church’s struggles to that of Christ:

“We pray especially for those brothers and sisters who in the past week or two have already been forced to move or leave their jobs.  We ask God to remember the price they have paid for holding on to their faith and ask him to take care of their families and their daily life needs.”

For the millions of Chinese Christians who are a part of underground churches that refuse government regulations, this kind of persecution is extreme, but not out of the question.  We’ll keep you posted on the struggle for religious freedom as this conflict unfolds.

 

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Photo from asmodehn.fr.

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105 comments

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10:23AM PDT on May 8, 2011

God bless those Christians in China who have lost their homes and jobs. Restore to them all of that and more.

China has the largest number of christians in the entire world...that blew my mind when I learned that.

May good always overcome evil. That's what Christians are instructed..overcome evil with good.

8:01AM PDT on May 2, 2011

What can we expect from China, right?.. but Im surprised why Vatican did not support the Christians there at least by some statement. ..

3:07PM PDT on May 1, 2011

Pray for chinese christian in China.

1:56PM PDT on May 1, 2011

Some communities just need to fade into the background and never be heard from again so that people who actually know what they're doing can become the powerful.

1:49PM PDT on May 1, 2011

And yet the, "Red Capitalists" (4 Legs Good, 2 Legs Better) continue to be the darlings of the Corporate world.

10:09PM PDT on Apr 30, 2011

Stupid. The forbidden fruit is always sweeter.

7:13PM PDT on Apr 30, 2011

scary

7:49AM PDT on Apr 30, 2011

I am surprised that people are surprised about the way the chinese governement has reacted...is reacting...or will react.....

China might be coming up in the world and their cities are getting more modern day by day BUT people FORGET that it is rule by dictatorship....and WE are helping with this!!

Foreign cies are in the thousands in china ...making money and helping the chinese industry...you are very welcome there IF YOU KEEP your mouth shut if not...they remind you of it.....I know....I lived there!

6:14AM PDT on Apr 30, 2011

thanks

3:46AM PDT on Apr 30, 2011

Perhaps those of you who are opposed to freedom of religion should relocate to some nice communist country......

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