By BosNewsLife Asia Service
BEIJING, CHINA (BosNewsLife) -- Chinese security forces have raided an evangelical church, confiscating Christian properties including Bibles, hymnals, a large cross and the collection box, Christians said Wednesday, October 1.
Some 20 plainclothes officers entered the City Glory Gospel Church in the city of Yantai in China's Shandong province on September 20, but it took apparently time to find secure channels to distribute the news.
Chinese Officials reportedly told the church members they had been tipped off about the meeting. A preacher, identified only as Pastor Liu and his wife, who were visiting from Taiwan, were speaking on prayer and parent-child relationships to the approximately 60-member congregation when the meeting was raided, said Christian advocacy group China Aid Association.
It added that several officials of the Municipal Bureau of Religion and the Public Security Bureau and Bureau of Security used cameras to record the raid.
"Pastor Liu, his wife and one church member were each taken to different rooms for more than two hours of interrogation. Afterwards, police demanded Pastor Liu and his wife no longer have contact with the church," the group added.
Law enforcement officials reportedly took the hard disk from one church member's computer and copied all the content, raising fears many sensitive contact details may have been compromised. "They also seized the collection box, a large cross, 15 Bibles and 42 hymnals," CAA said.
Officials later returned the Bibles, but on September 27 the church reportedly received a "Notice of Hearing on Administrative Penalty" and "Notice of Administrative Penalty" from the District Bureau of Religion. The Christians were told that the official charge is "setting up a gathering site without approval."
News of the incident came just hours after friends said Pastor Zhang "Bike" Mingxuan and his wife celebrated their first peaceful Sunday, September 28, in three months after officials restored their water and electricity and permitted their house church to gather.
Church observers have complained that China is still not fully committed to religious freedom, despite some isolated positive developments. Active Christians, including church leaders and missionaries, remain detained in prisons and labor camps in China.
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