By BosNewsLife News Center
BEIJING,CHINA (BosNewsLife) -- Authorities in China's Anhui province have closed down a house church and force believers to join the government backed Three-Self Church denomination, a religious rights group said Monday, December 11.
China Aid Association said it established that on November 26, 2006 a house church in the suburb of Laodong Xincui in Tongling City of Anhui Province "was closed by the local Religious Affair Bureau. The church leaders were told to worship in the local Three-Self Church."
The house church was founded by 53-year-old Wang Xingquan and has currently a membership of about 200 Christians. Wang was thrown into prison for his faith during the Cultural Revolution, Christians said.
CAA said there has been new pressure on Wang as "his daughter's work place stopped paying her salary, and has threatened to fire her unless she sets an example for other Christians by joining the local Three-Self Church." The group added that, "another brother under threat of losing his job was coerced to resign from the [house] church."
Christians in the area said they are planning legal action to regain their right to worship after the decision by the Religious Affairs Bureau to close the house church was upheld last week. " We hope that the Tongling government corrects their mistakes and protects religious freedom of its citizens," said CAA President Bob Fu, a former house church leader in a statement obtained by BosNewsLife.
CAA said it also learned that all of the Christians arrested October 20 in an area of Yili City in China's Xinjiang autonomous area were released by November 26. "Four brothers who were locked in the detention center for 32 days, are now in the hospital for medical treatment as a result of being severely tortured by other prisoners," CAA claimed. Another, "brother and two sisters," were detained for 14 days, apparently because of their religious activities the well-informed group said.
No legal documents were apparently issued when they were arrested and released. "I was beaten daily morning, noon and night. They beat me if I ate the food or did not eat the food, ate too much or too little, went to the toilet or did not go to the toilet. They just beat me for no reason," one of the four Christians in hospital was quoted as saying in remarks distributed by CAA.
Another man, identified only as 60-year-old 'Brother Tan' said he was "intentionally placed in a cell with homosexual prisoners" where he allegedly "suffered the humiliation of being sexually abused as well as physically" beaten. "I would not come out alive if I had been with them any longer," he reportedly said.
Fu told BosNewsLife that it was "totally intolerable to treat a sixty-year old man like that. "We appeal to the Xinjiang government to investigate this event and punish the people involved in detaining and abusing these Christians." China's government has denied human rights abuses and says Christians are free to worship in the government backed churches. Authoritires say they only crack down on "dangerous cults" and "sects," but human rights watchers say security forces often target unofficial groups such as house churches.
Observers say however that most of China's estimated 80 million Christians gather within house churches because they claim the official denominations are not focusing on Christ, but on the ideology of the Communist government. (With reports from China and BosNewsLife Research)
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