The China Aid Association (CAA) reported the release of Christians whom were arrested in a morning raid of a Bible school in Anhui Province, China.
Shortly after calling for the immediate release of those imprisoned, CAA reported that Chinese officials freed all 36 teachers and students. 1,000 copies of confiscated literature remain in police custody, however. The literature was given to a political committee for legal review. At the moment, it is not clear whether or not the Bible school will reopen.
The facilities at the Bible school had also served as a sewing school for students to learn trade skills besides biblical training.
Pastor Chu Huaiting, owner of the school, was later arrested at his home. At least four leaders were able to escape capture during the initial raid, says CAA.
The Chinese government currently allows worship in only the Three Self Patriotic Movement (TSPM), following the expulsion of church leaders and foreign missionaries after the communist revolution in 1949.
A government organization similar to the TSPM controls the Catholic Church, as well. Parishioners and priests not wishing to acknowledge the organization have worshipped in private at masses held in house churches.
Several millions of protestant worshippers have been known to attend unregistered groups, often named house churches because they meet secretly in private homes. Documented consequences for discovery often include arrests, incarceration and harassment.
Government reactions to the unregistered churches, nonetheless, may vary in different regions, according to some experts on religious activity in China. Some provincial officials have been known to tolerate the existence of seminaries and printing houses, while others have retained a heavy-handed status quo.
For more information on China Aid Association, visit its website.