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  • » 07/30/2013, 00.00

    CHINA

    In Beijing, 34 members of the Shouwang Church arrested



    Led by the feisty Rev Jin Tianming, one of the capital's Protestant communities has been denied the right to have a place of worship. Forced to meet outdoors in every kind of whether, believers and clergy are hauled away by police. In his 'arrest' newsletter, the reverend calls on the faithful to pray for their persecutors.

    Beijing (AsiaNews) - Like every Sunday, police arrested members of Shouwang Church once again either before or after the service. "Let us pray that they won't be like Pilate, and choose personal interests over truth," and that they "will turn back to God and be freed from sin," wrote Rev Jin Tianming, the feisty clergyman in charge of one of the capital's Protestant congregation, in an ad hoc newsletter released after the service on 21 July.

    "It was a sunny day. As far as we know, [. . .], at least thirty-four believers were taken away from locations near the platform or from home. Some of them were released soon after they were taken away, and the rest of them were detained at Zhongguancun Street police station," Rev Jin's statement said.

    However, "Through this Sunday's sermon, God reminded us that we should pray for city management officials, policemen, and auxiliary police in our country," he added. "They are following orders to do evil, engaging in crime while being a victim of sin. Let us pray that they won't be like Pilate, and choose personal interests over truth, but will turn back to God and be freed from sin."

    Shouwang Church has more than a thousand members. In 2005, it tried to register with the government but its request was dismissed.

    Since 10 April 2011, the faithful have been forced to meet in the street for Sunday services, after the authorities banned them from several locations they had tried to lease.

    In 2009, the congregation bought a 1,500-m2 building to hold their activities, but the authorities prevented them from using it. They followed this by trying to use a private home and then a restaurant: each time the police chased away.

    Every prayer meeting they hold ends with a police raid, especially in summer.

    In June 2011, the Public Security Bureau set a record by arresting dozens of Christians for seven consecutive Sundays. Despite this, there are always more than a hundred people every time.

    In China, religious groups that register with the government are allowed to operate. However, underground Protestant organisations have more members (80 million) than the official Three-Self Patriotic Movement (about 20 million).

    Lest the situation get out of hand, the Party has pursued a campaign for the past five years designed to crush underground communities or force them to join the official one.

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    See also

    01/10/2010 CHINA
    “Official” Changchunli Church attacked in Ji’nan
    The authorities are now targeting Christian communities that belong to the Three Self-Patriotic Movement, the government body in charge of Protestant Churches, in order to steel their land, and resell to business interests. Thus, even religious freedom “government-style” takes a backseat.

    22/06/2011 CHINA
    Police arrests Shouwang Church members, talks theology with them
    Fifteen people were arrested on Sunday, joining dozens already under house arrest. Members of the official Three-Self Patriotic Movement took part in the interrogation of those arrested in order to convince them to join their organisation. A campaign of repression is underway against ‘House Churches’.

    06/06/2011 CHINA
    Arrest of Shouwang Christians and other believers relentless
    Yesterday, 20 more members of the Church of Shouwang were arrested, some of their leaders are under house arrest for over two months. Beijing wants to suppress any religious activity outside the control of the Communist Party.

    21/09/2012 CHINA
    Beijing's Shouwang Church denounces police repression
    The pastor of the congregation, the combative Jin Tianming, has laid a formal complaint to the authorities: officials arrested his people more than 1,600 times in 17 months, have prevented them from using the premises purchased for worship or hire others, have lobbied for the dismissal of his followers.

    28/10/2015 CHINA
    Members of Beijing’s Shouwang Church arrested again
    For several years, Church members have been forced to worship outdoors. The authorities have harassed them and prevented the congregation from renting or purchasing a place of worship. The four members arrested in the latest raid have been given a ten days of administrative detention for "disturbing public order".



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