By Stefan J. Bos, Chief International Correspondent Worthy News
(Worthy News) - Chinese police have detained more than 100 Christians, including minors, for attending unauthorized worship and Christian education in southeastern China, several sources confirmed.
Most were reportedly detained on April 17 when security forces raided one of the services of the non-registered Xunsiding Church congregation.
The raid happened during a church service in the Pacific Rim Hotel in Xiamen, said advocacy group ChinaAid, which represents the believers.
More than 100 Christians were detained in a single room “with no access to a restroom,” ChinaAid explained. Each participant was questioned, identified, and photographed before they were finally released, Christians said.
Witnesses claimed police were treating them harshly, with a female Christian complaining: “Police were shouting at us as if we were criminals.”
The congregation has long been the target of China’s Communist authorities, Christians told Worthy News. In May 2019, local authorities informed the Xunsiding Church in Xiamen that they intended to close it down, said Christians familiar with the situation.
CHURCH MEMBERS THREATENED
Church members were reportedly threatened with the loss of their jobs unless they complied. And on May 19, dozens of officers raided a church service, and officers remained on-site to ensure no one re-entered the facility, according to rights investigators.
The police action didn’t stop the church members, “who continued to meet in homes and various rental facilities, even though police repeatedly discovered the locations,” ChinaAid noticed.
The pressure on the church already began in the 1950s when Chinese Communist Party (CCP) officials forced Xiamen Xunsiding Church to close, rights activists said.
After Christian Yang Huaide invited church members to meet in his home instead, authorities reportedly jailed Yang’s grandchildren Yang Xinfei and Yang Yuanzhang.
They received 15 years and five years “for sharing the Gospel” but continued their church work after they were released, Christians said.
Another church in China that it claimed experienced “repeated harassment” is the Early Rain Covenant Church. On April 21, police raided its “tutoring program, detaining 12 adolescents and four adults,” the group said.
POLICE IGNORING REQUESTS
“Police ignored requests from parents for information on their minor children. All 16 were finally allowed to leave the police station at around 9 o'clock that evening.” Three Christians living in the neighborhood were reportedly also detained but were not immediately released.
The crackdown was linked to the decision by families to educate their children outside of the public schools “to avoid Communist indoctrination,” Chinese Christians said. This wasn’t the first program of the Early Rain Covenant Church that was targeted by security forces. Its troubles already began with an “extensive crackdown” in December 2018, Christian rights investigators say.
Pastor Wang Yi was sentenced to nine years in prison. Despite its official closure, the church has continued its activities. Because of their faith in Christ, members have faced “ongoing provocation,” Christians said.
Employers have been pressured to fire them, and some members have been evicted from their homes, according to Christians familiar with the case. “Utilities have also been disconnected in various residences,” Christians said.
Church leaders have linked the anti-Christian measures to the perceived authoritarian policies of President Xi Jinping. Communist officials have expressed concern about the spread of Christianity in the country where there are as many as 130 million believers.
Chinese authorities have denied wrongdoing. They suggest that churches in China must register with the government and join the Three-Self Patriotic Movement or the Chinese Patriotic Catholic Association.
However, even these state-approved denominations face severe restrictions as millions of Christians worship in illegal underground house churches or other houses worship.