By Worthy News Asia Service
BEIJING, CHINA (Worthy News)-- China's government has issued a secret directive to dismantle at least six major house churches in and outside the capital Beijing ahead of the upcoming 60th anniversary of Communist rule in the country, according to Christian right investigators.
In a statement, seen by Worthy News and its partner agency BosNewsLife Monday, August 31, advocacy group China Aid Association (CAA) said among those targeted was the Beijing Shouwang house church, one of the largest house churches in the area.
The Beijing Huajie Plaza group allegedly received an order from China's main law enforcement agency, the Public Security Bureau, to terminate its rental contract with the church. Chinese officials were not immediately available for comment, but Worthy News has monitored similar directives in the past.
CAA said other house churches in Beijing are under similar pressure to stop church gatherings. “In mid-August, three government officials...disrupted a baptism service held at a river in the Beijing suburbs by one house church from Haidian district.”
Outside Beijing, a church in Zhejiang was also raided, and more than two tons of Sunday school materials were confiscated, CAA said. In addition, a house church training school in Shandong province was recently raided and banned by the authorities, the group added.
CAA President Bob Fu linked the events to the upcoming 60th anniversary of China's Communist Party. However, “The upcoming 60th anniversary...is not [a] cause for trampling on rights of peaceful citizens...” he added.
The president of the Chinese House Church Alliance, which represents the growing house churches in China, Pastor “Bike” Jiang Mingxuan, has urged China's leader to end the reported crackdown.
In an open letter to President Hu Jintao he said state officials “mistreat millions of Christians in China” as they are seen as causing “social disturbance.” They impose fines, he said, “and enforce detention to the Christians, claiming they are a “cult” and [involved in] “illegal gatherings”.
He said officials have “robbed” personal items and money from Christians and urged the president to end “corruption in the Chinese government” and promote “legal equality” for all believers.
The pastor however also said that “Christians in China were arrested, beaten and killed like lambs by your subordinates, but they endure the hardship, and love you like Jesus does regardless.”
Although he said Chinese Christians would not avenge themselves, he cautioned that “the…persecution Christians suffer will make them stronger warriors for Christ; however, those who persecute the children of God will have to pay the penalty,” according to a letter distributed by CAA.
Despite pressure to end the reported crackdown trials against Christians and churches continue, BosNewsLife established.
In one of the latest cases, “after months of failed negotiations and sleepless nights, Brother Huang Lemin stood his first trial before the Leqing Court in Wen Zhou,” Christians said.
“An emaciated Huang was escorted in hand-cuffs to the defendant’s stand,” August 19, with “hundreds of members from his Baixiang Church to support and observe” the trial.
He was detained April 23 on charges of “intentional injury”.
Christians have denied the charges, saying he defended himself when a group of attackers were “beating and abusing him” on his way to church on March 1, 2009.
Earlier, on August 13, 2009, several police officers broke into the fellowship home of Christians in Sanggu town of Henan province and “unlawfully seized Brothers Li Guangren and Zheng Xincai” Christians said.
The police officials reportedly disrupted the worship gathering, and with no legal explanation, arrested Li and Zheng and drove off with them in two vehicles.
Talking about this incidents to foreign media, can be dangerous, Christians said.
On August 14 a Chinese authorities sentenced Li Guang-ren and Zheng Xin-cai to 10 days administrative detention each, with a fine of 1,000 yuan, ($146) after speaking to U.S. backed Radio Free Asia about alleged religious freedom violations, CAA said.
Christians have linked the crackdown to concern among atheist Communist officials about the spread of Christianity in China. There are at least 130 million Christians in the country, according to some officials.