A pastor from China's coastal Zhejiang province has been released after spending several months in prison for protesting the defending churches facing demolition.
According to China Aid, an organization dedicated to exposing religious freedom abuses in China, Wen Xiaowu, a house church pastor, was originally detained in April with his wife, Xiang Lihua, and their eldest son, Wen "Eden" Yidian. The incident occurred shortly after Wen had contacted U.S. Consulate officials and foreign journalists to give them an update regarding the Communist government's continued "Three Rectification and One Demolition" beautification campaign, which has seen the demolition of at least 1,200 crosses and numerous places of worship in the past couple of years.
Two days later, Wen Xiaowu and Xiang, both of whom had provided legal consultation to churches who are facing cross demolition campaign, were officially charged with "gathering a crowd to disturb social order" and criminally detained. Wen Yidian was taken into police custody the same night and accused of "obstructing public service" for resisting his parents' arrest.
On Friday, the pastor was finally released; however, he must serve six months under "residential surveillance."
Reads the China Aid report: "Wen's family wishes to thank the international community for advocating for his release and says that they believe 'persistent, focused and high-level pressure' works well when confronting China on human rights issues."
The Communist party has expressed discomfort with the growing influence of Christianity in the country; last year, President Xi Jinping called on China to return to traditional beliefs and imposed harsh restrictions on "western" religions such as Christianity.
Hundreds of Christians, including pastors, lawyers, and activists, have been arrested for speaking out against the ongoing persecution, and many of them are still detained. Human rights attorneys who provide legal support to churches in China have also been subjected to police brutality and coerced into confessing on television that they have disturbed the peace, and jeopardized national security.
Last week, police arrested the Vatican-appointed coadjutor bishop of Wenzhou, Msgr. Peter Shao Zhumin because he was not approved by Chinese officials. AsiaNews reported that at the time of his arrest, Shao was making preparations to honor the funeral of Msgr. Vincent Zhu Weifang, the original Bishop of Wenzhou who died earlier this week. Local Christians believe authorities arrested Shao to prevent him from participating in the funeral and taking possession of the diocese.
The ongoing targeting of Christians prompted Open Doors USA top place the country at 33rd on its World Watch List of countries where believers face the most persecution.