Chinese authorities continued their raids during outdoor worship services of an underground Christian “house” church in Beijing the first Sunday in May.
The arrests show the intention of China’s newly appointed Secretary of Religious Affairs to “break up and crush all house churches” and bring them under the mantle of government control, a member of the church told The Epoch Times.
At least 31 Christians of Beijing’s Shouwang Church were taken away from their outdoors worshipping site by police on May 1 according to China Aid Association. People were sent to different Public Security Bureaus or police stations, among them a minister from Beijing’s New Tree Church who had joined the service of Shouwang Church. He was held by police for two full days.
This latest crackdown on Shouwang Church followed earlier police raids on Apr. 17 and 24—Easter Sunday—when several dozen church members were arrested and 500 members placed under house arrest.
Two days of Sino-U.S. human rights talks at the end of April, during which the U.S. brought up the issue of persecution of religious groups, proved ineffectual in protecting Chinese Christians who choose to worship outside the state-sanctioned “Three-Self Patriotic Movement” Church.
“The real intention behind Chinese authorities’ oppression of Shouwang Church is to completely break up house churches like Shouwang Church and eventually merge them into the government-controlled Three-Self Church. This is a goal that the newly appointed Secretary of Religious Affairs urgently wants to achieve,” a member of the Shouwang Church who asked to remain anonymous, told The Epoch Times. He said the information came from an internal meeting of the Bureau of Religious Affairs.
Whether they are renting space in office buildings or worshiping at home, house churches have gradually been replacing the government-run church in every corner of the country, this church member said. And these house churches are not following the teachings of the Administration for Religious Affairs.
“Belief is a freedom. It’s impossible to ask us to register in a false church run by the government. It goes contrary to the belief of our house church,” this person said.
“The problems the Shouwang Church faces are what all house churches in China face. If the Shouwang Church is wiped out, all the house churches in the entire nation are facing suppression next,” he said.
Global Times, an international newspaper run by the Chinese communist party’s mouthpiece People's Daily, stated in an April 26 editorial that house churches are engaged in illegal activities. “They are not engaged in religious affairs but political ones,” the editorial said.
Read the original Chinese article.