Religious freedom in China, is more uncertain report says

By July 28, 2005

China (MNN/Compass) — Wide-ranging persecution of Chinese Christians in recent months has dashed hopes of greater religious freedom promised in a new law on religion that took effect in March.

According to Compass Direct, China adopted the new Regulations on Religious Affairs on March 1. They encouraged Protestant and Catholic house churches to register with the relevant government body. Younger house church leaders were optimistic about the law, while an older generation of leaders — those who survived the Cultural Revolution — were suspicious of the government’s motives. A wave of arrests in May, June and July has cast further doubt on the government’s intent to improve religious liberty.

Police surrounded an entire village in Henan province on June 24, during a leadership training program for house church pastors. About 100 pastors from major cities in Henan were arrested, according to the China Aid Association (CAA). Most were released the same day after questioning, but nine of them, including the leading pastor, Chen Dongming, were detained.

A month earlier, on May 24, police arrested three Christian women in Henan province. Liu Lianying, Xue Haimiao and Zhang Xiulan were arrested while visiting a Christian leader, CAA reported. Police held them for two days and brutally beat them, to the point where Liu, 52, suffered a heart attack.

CAA also reported the arrest of 20 house church leaders in Pinglu county, Shanxi province, northern China. Pastor Zhang Guangmin and Elder Li, who were leading the Bible training class, were held for two weeks and one month respectively in the local county detention center.

More than 1,000 miles to the west, in Xinjiang province, Chinese border guards detained 12 Christians from the mainland who were traveling to Pakistan. According to Compass sources, police detained them for several days after one member of the group admitted they were going as missionaries.

These are only a few of the stories coming out of China.

The spread of Christianity among educated Chinese was highlighted in an article in The Economist on April 23, entitled, “Christianity is becoming popular with China’s urban elite.” The trend clearly worries the Chinese government.

Pray that the leaders will be released and pray for protection for others.

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