China arrests more Christians
Michael Foust, Baptist Press
May 10, 2011

China arrests more Christians

China arrests more Christians
Michael Foust, Baptist Press
May 10, 2011

BEIJING — At least 13 members of a Beijing church were

arrested Sunday, May 8, in the fifth straight week of its defiance of the

Chinese government, which continued to force people out of their homes in an

effort to pressure the congregation.

One family learned they were being kicked out of their home at 6:40 Sunday

morning, before the service even began.

The high-profile clash between the government and Shouwang Church — one of the

largest unregistered illegal churches in Beijing — has led to hundreds of house

arrests or detentions. More than 500 church members were placed under arrest on

Easter weekend alone, prevented from leaving their houses or apartments.

ChinaAid, a U.S.-based organization that monitors religious freedom in the

country, said the government, as in previous weeks, continued “rendering church

members homeless by pressuring their landlords to evict them.”

Shouwang Church itself is homeless, having lost its meeting space when the

government pressured the owners of a restaurant — its last home — to kick out

the church. The church also has tried to rent space, only to see various

landlords pressured not to cooperate.

Each week during the past month, the church has tried to worship at a public

site in Zhongguancun in northwest Beijing.

Churches in China are legal only if they register with the government and join

what is known as the Three-Self Patriotic Movement. But ChinaAid founder Bob

Fu, in an interview with Baptist Press, said churches have a solid, biblical

reason for refusing to register with the government.

“Fundamentally,” Fu said, “the number one reason is focused on who is the head

of the church? Is it the Communist Party, the Chinese government or Jesus

Christ alone? The Three-Self Patriotic Movement is nothing but a political

organization with a religious uniform. All the leaders are appointed by the

Communist Party, the United Front Work Department and the State Administration

for Religious Affairs, and they are salaried. And many of the leaders are also

Communist Party members.

“Secondly, once you join the government-sanctioned church, you lose pretty much

all the freedom of evangelism. There are lots of limitations and rules that

will forbid you to do any evangelism outside of the four walls of the church

building. You can’t baptize anybody under 18 years old, you’re forbidden to

have a Sunday School. There are fundamental differences.”

More than 160 were arrested the first week Shouwang tried to meet outdoors,

about 50 were arrested the second week, approximately 40 on the third week and

about 30 on the fourth week. The declining number of arrests likely is due to

the government placing so many other members under house arrest, which prevents

them from even leaving their homes.

Included in the latest round of arrests was a woman who is a member of another

illegal church, New Tree House Church. She showed up at the outdoor site to

show solidarity with her fellow believers, ChinaAid reported.

(EDITOR’S NOTE — Foust is associate editor of Baptist Press.)

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