A registered church in Henan Province was raided during a Bible training class and three church leaders were arrested.
On March 6, four officers of the Chinese Public Security Bureau (PBS) surrounded the church building in Qiaozhuang Village, Wangmingkou Town, Xiangcheng County, Henan Province at 11 a.m., according to an eyewitness report obtained by the Texas-based Chinese Christian persecution watchdog China Aid Association (CAA).
Some 50 believers were receiving Bible training from the 34-years-old Pastor Liu Tuanjie, who is one of the church leaders. The PSB declared the gathering an "illegal evil cult" training though that church is certified by the government through the Three-Self Patriotic Movement, sources say.
According to CAA, Pastor Liu and the other two church leaders, Mr. Li Xueqin (52-years-old) and Ms. Ma (whose first name is not available), were taken into custody. Meanwhile, Pastor Liu and Mr. Li are still in custody, Ms. Ma was released after her family paid a 3000 yuan ($400) fine.
It was believed that the accusation is caused by Pastor Liu, who is from Shangshui County, Henan Province. Under the existing religious law in China, unless there is explicit permission from a higher authority, even the government approved clergies are forbidden to minister in a different city other than his so-called "designated area," CAA says.
The Chinese government regulates the activities and movement of government approved clergies very closely in an attempt to control the growth of religion. According to CAA, a so-called "Three-Designate" policy (San Ding) is imposed by the Chinese government. It means only the government "designated" (certified) clergies are allowed to perform religious services in a "designated" location at a "designated" time.
While the Chinese government always claims to allow religious freedom, even within the Three-Self Patriotic Movement, there are many constraints that may jeopardize the rights of believers. On the other hand, the crackdown against unregistered churches has been intensifying in some provinces in China.
On Feb. 13, a simultaneous campaign against the House churches in Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region was conducted in 11 counties, CAA reported. More than a dozen major church leaders were arrested. Most of them were released after being detained for a few days. Pastor Lou Yuanqi is still held at Huocheng County Detention Center. In Shanxi Province, two House Church leaders were taken into custody on March 6 from their homes by PSB officers from Baihe County, Shanxi Province. Both Pastor Ruan Yonggui and Pastor Liu Fukao belong to a well-known House Church group called China Gospel Fellowship.
"The attack on the registered church and arrest of her pastors certainly demonstrates the Chinese government’s double talk when it promises to protect the church in exchange for registration," said Bob Fu of CAA. "We urge the Chinese government to immediately release these innocent Christian leaders."