By BosNewsLife News Center
BEIJING, CHINA (BosNewsLife) -- China's central government has launched a nationwide campaign to crackdown on what it calls "illegal religious activities," targeting especially Christians, BosNewsLife learned from investigators Saturday, August 25.
Since last month, reports indicate "massive arrests in at least eight provinces including Inner Mongolia, Xinjiang, Jiangsu, Henan, Shandong, Shanxi and Anhui," said the US-backed China Aid Association (CAA) which has close contacts with what it describes as "persecuted" house churches.
"Some [Christians] are still being detained for receiving Bibles while some were persecuted by having their water and electricity cut off by the government because of hosting Sunday schools at home," CAA told BosNewsLife.
In a report quoted by CAA, China's Ministry of Public Security (MPS) urged all local officials to start a one month campaign to "severely crack down illegal religion and evil religious activities" to eliminate "the political unstable elements" in the countryside.
Among those detained are reportedly seven house church leaders, who were apparently arrested Tuesday, August 21, during a house church meeting in Inner Mongolia. Four pastors from Liaoning province, including pastor Qin Tao, 29, Wang Cong, 34, Wang Shengjun, 34 and Wang Youjun, 47, were arrested along with three Christian women leaders from Inner Mongolia while holding a worship service in Leizhiwa village of Inner Mongolia, CAA claimed. They are detained at the local office of the Public Security Bureau, one of China's main law enforcement agencies.
Also, one church leader and two other Christians were detained and injured during a raid at a house church at Jianhu city, Jiangsu province on Sunday, August 19, CAA said. The same church was reportedly attacked July 11 while hosting a summer camp for 150 children.
In addition three church leaders from Henan, Anhui and Shanxi provinces were detained for five days when they took some Sunday school literature from a house church at Zaolin village, Guanjin town in Henan province on August 17, CAA said.
It also said that three church leaders were detained for up to 10 days "as administrative punishment since August 9" when they were having a worship meeting at Qinghe town in Shandong province. The detained Pastors were identified as Du Dafeng, Cheng Zhenan and a woman, Yue Ying.
There were also other incident. "Well-known Christian businessman Zhou Heng has been under criminal detention since August 3," at Xishan Detention Center in Xinjiang province after being arrested when he tried to pick up two tons of Bibles at a bus station sent by someone from another province to distribute to local believers, CAA added. "A number of local house church leaders and believers have been questioned since then."
He is suspected of an "illegal business operation at 21:00 [local time] on August 3, 2007," according to an official document, CAA said. If convicted he could face up to 15 years imprisonment. The Chinese government only allows official sanctioned churches to print and distribute limited number of bibles, but groups say that is not enough to meet the needs of roughly 130 million Christians.
The business men was detained several weeks after local authorities started to harass a Christian woman. "Sister Kong Lingrong and several young Christians between the ages of 10 to 15" who were reading the Bible and praying in a house. Local Communist officials apparently interrupted the meeting on July 14, allegedly saying it was "an illegal gathering and that children are not allowed to believe in Jesus."
"Sister Kong Lingrong told them that she was only reading some Bible passages to them and telling them how to be a true human being," and showed them a copy of the "United Nations Convention on Children's Rights," CAA said, citing sources in the region. Six days later, electricity and water services to Kong Lingrong's house were interrupted, CAA said.
Rights groups claim Chinese authorities are stepping up actions against Christian groups to discourage evangelization activities ahead of next year's Olympic Games in Beijing, amid government fears they could use the event to further spread Christianity in the Communist nation. Chinese government officials have denied human rights abuses.
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