The latest government-sponsored raid against house church in China was revealed by the Chinese Christian persecution watchdog China Aid Association (CAA). As some several hundred of believers were known to be persecuted in July and August in different provinces, the CAA suggested that China is allegedly carrying out a systematic program of discrimination against religious "cults" with the support of a secret document recently received by CAA.
According to the press release of CAA dated on August 17, the secret document from City of Datong, Shanxi Province and City of Shayang, Hubei Province, was prepared by The Offices of the Leadership Group to Prevent and Handle Cultic Activities of the Chinese Communist Party (610 Office).
The documents outline training session instructions for grassroots cadres regarding "policies on preventing and handling cults which operate in the name of religion."
According to CAA, the document includes the three-point definition of religious "cult" by the Office of Leadership Group. First, God is a performer of "miracles"; second, such organizations are similar to clandestine organizations like gangs and mafia societies; third, cults propagate evil teachings which are anti-science, anti-civilization, and anti-society.
CAA raised concern over the threat to the already very limited religious freedom of believers in China due to the vagueness of the documents’ definition of "cults".
A Shayang report in this document even indicates that the Chinese government has purposefully engaged in a targeted campaign against other unregistered religious groups besides Falun Gong, which has already been defined as a "cult" by China.
In fact, there have been a rising number of persecutions in China within these two months. The latest raid is reported by CAA that five American Church leaders were arrested in Luoyang City and Yichuan City, Henan Province by the PSB of Luoyang City on August 15.
Reliable collaborated sources said four American church leaders including one couple and 27 Chinese House Church pastors were arrested at a location nearby a mall at Luoyang City while celebrating Christian fellowship together.
Another American along with Chinese Pastor Wan Dagan, were arrested a few hours later by two plain-clothed secret agents while the two were walking on a street in Yichuan City, Henan Province.
Only one man among all the arrested was identified, who is Mr Zhuo Tao. Zhuo used to work in the Chinese army, a nephew of Peter Xu, who is the founder of a Christian house church group known as Born Again Movement.
In response to the China’s alleged campaign, the president of CAA, Bob Fu said, "China’s violations of international religious and diplomatic covenants, to which they are a signatory, must cease. Religious groups which already have limited fundamental rights will be deemed a ‘cult’ at any time and loose what legitimacy they previous held."
"China’s blatant disregard for the fundamental rights of religious believers raises questions as to China’s commitment to the rule of law and greatly weakens its moral authority," he added.
Currently, the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) delegation is on a two-week tour in China to promote religious freedom in the country. CAA urges the commissioners from USCIRF to use their current meetings with Chinese senior officials to raise these cases and demand immediate release of these religious prisoners and thorough investigation on the torture allegations.