Radio Free China

Human Rights and Religious Freedom News

Chinese House Church Closed

Posted by radiofreechina on December 12, 2006

By Jeremy Reynalds
Correspondent for ASSIST News Service

MIDLAND, TEXAS (ANS) — Authorities in a Chinese province are reportedly forcing Christians attending a house church to join the government-sanctioned Three-Self Church.
House churches are not officially registered organizations (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Three-Self_Patriotic_Movement).

According to the China Aid Association (CAA), on Nov.26, a house church assembly in Laodong Xincui, Tongling City, Anhui Province, was closed by the area Religious Affairs Bureau. The church leaders were told to worship in the local Three-Self Church.

The house church was founded over a half-century ago by a well known Christian, Wang Xingquan, and currently has a membership of about 200, CAA reported. Xingquan was thrown into prison for his faith during the Cultural Revolution.

In order to exert more pressure on Xingquan, CAA reported his daughter’s work unit 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. Another church attendee quit the unregistered house church rather than lose his job.

At a Dec.5 government hearing held at the request of house church members, CAA reported the Religious Affair Bureau’s decision to close the church was upheld.

Currently the Christians affected hold individual worship services in their homes. CAA reported they are preparing for further legal action to regain their religious freedom.

“The Religious Affair Bureau is only one department in the government in charge of religious affairs. It is definitely not powerful enough to force a work unit to stop paying its employees,” said Bob Fu, President of CAA, in a news release. “It is obvious that the entire course of action was formulated by the upper level government. (The) government’s resorting to administrative methods to interfere with religious affairs ultimately tramples the spirit and promise of religious freedom stipulated in the Chinese Constitution and International Laws. We hope that the Tongling government corrects their mistakes and protects religious freedom of its citizens.”

In another incident reported to CAA, the group reported it learned that all of the Christians arrested Oct. 20 in Qingshuihe Town, Huocheng County, Yili City, Xinjiang autonomous area were released by Nov.26. Four males were incarcerated for 32 days; another male and two females for 14 days. According to CAA, no legal documents were issued either when they were arrested or released.

According to CAA, the four males who were locked up for 32 days are now in the hospital for medical treatment as a result of being severely tortured by other prisoners.

CAA reported one of them said, “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.”

According to CAA, the individuals learned that they were beaten in accordance with instructions from the police officers in charge of the detention center.

The experience of one of those beaten was especially horrific, commented CAA. This 60-year-old man, CAA reported, “was intentionally placed in a cell with homosexual prisoners where he suffered the humiliation of being sexually abused as well as physically beaten. “I would not have come out alive if I had been with them any longer,” CAA reported the man said.

“It is totally intolerable to treat a 60-year old man like that,” Fu commented in a news release. “We appeal to the Xinjiang government to investigate this event, and punish the people involved in detaining and abusing these Christians.”

CAA reported the organization has sent a representative to Xinjiang to comfort those who have been subjected to this persecution.

For more information about the China Aid Association go to http://www.ChinaAid.org

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