China "Returns" Confiscated Church Properties After International Pressure "And Prayers"

Monday, May 14, 2007

By BosNewsLife News Center

BEIJING, CHINA (BosNewsLife) -- Amid international pressure Chinese security forces have returned confiscated items to two house churches in the city of Kunshan in China's Jiangsu province, BosNewsLife established Saturday, May 12.

The move came shortly after Christian news agency BosNewsLife and its affiliates published an investigation by China Aid Association (CAA), a major religious rights group. Christians outside China also began a prayer 'campaign'. Jeff Burnsed, Senior Pastor of Coral Ridge Baptist Ministries in Jacksonville, FL, USA, told that after the news broke his church had been praying for the "persecuted believers."

Public Security Bureau (PSB) officers told two church pastors Cui Chengnan and Liu Riguo, who planned to sue the authorities to regain the properties, "that the increasing international pressure after CAA's report and the fear of a negative impact on foreign investment in that area made them do so," CAA explained to BosNewsLife.

PSB officers reportedly also apologized to the church privately and promised to reimburse the costs of the church pew and offering box which were apparently ruined by the police organization during the raid.


On May 9 the two pastors began sued loal authorities, filing an application for administrative reconsideration and demanded that the Kunshan Municipal People's Government rule that the confiscation of properties was "illegal and return all the items" and the donated money confiscated during the police raid on the house church.

Following the return of the church properties, the two pastors decided to withdraw their legal actions, CAA said.

The two house churches were raided separately during meetings by the Kunshan Municipal's local PSB office on April 29, Christians said. Policemen allegedly declared their worship services "illegal assemblies" and confiscated notebook computers, projectors, DVD players, stereo installations, microphones, Bibles and other materials. They also took away the church offering boxes, CAA added.


"This is certainly a welcoming first step in the right direction," said CAA president and former house church pastor Bob Fu. "The Chinese House Church is not seeking confrontation with their government. The action that Jiangsu authority has demonstrated that a reasonable approach like this could be found in its interaction with the house churches and we highly [appreciate] this..."

It comes amid reports of ongoing raids on other house churches which have been linked to concern within Chinese leadership about the spread of Christianity in China.

The Chinese government has denied human rights abuses, saying Christians are free to worship within the state-backed denominations. However human rights groups say that most of China's Christians, perhaps up to 150 million according to some estimates, prefer to worship within, often unregisterd, house churches because they do not want Communist government over their worship services. (With BosNewsLife research and reports from China).

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