Catholic worshippers attend a Mass on Holy Saturday, part of Easter celebrations at Beijing’s government sanctioned South Cathedral on Mar 31, 2018 (Photo:AFP/Getty Images)

By UCA News reporter

Mar 25 2024

Nine Chinese Christians belonging to a Protestant house church have remained in police detention following their arrest ten days ago for allegedly carrying out activities in the name of “an illegal social organization.”

Christians from the Fuyang Maizhong Reformed Church in Fuyang city in northwestern China’s Anhui province were arrested on Mar 10 during a Sunday gathering, a report from ChinaAid said on Mar 21.

Plainclothes police officers and officials from the local religious affairs bureau carried out the raid and detained total of 18 Christians, including two children. Eight of them were placed under 13-day administrative detention and the church’s Elder Chang Shun was slapped with a 15-day detention.

This was Chang’s third police detention in the past six months, ChinaAid said.

During the raid, the officials refused to show their credentials and declined to answer when Christians asked for the reason behind the raid on the gathering in a restaurant.

The officials reportedly seized mobile phones and tablets and stopped the Christians from taking photographs and videos during the raid.

The detainees were interrogated in the local police station for hours, reports say.

Fuyang Maizhong Reformed Church and its members have been targeted several times since 2018 for refusing to join the state-sanctioned Three-Self Church, which oversees Protestant churches in China.

Raids became frequent after the leader of the Church signed a “Joint Statement by Pastors: A Declaration for the Sake of the Christian Faith” by Pastor Wang Yi of the Chengdu Early Rain Covenant Church in 2018.

The document condemned the persecution of Christians in China and openly refused to obey the government’s order asking all Protestant Churches to join the Three-Self Church.

The authorities banned gatherings by the Fuyang Maizhong Reformed Church, but Christians continued to gather for prayers and other activities secretly.

On Mar 13, Li Yunyan, the wife of Elder Chang Shun, sent out a prayer request to all church members expressing deep concerns about her husband and the other Christians.

Officially atheist China’s constitution allows freedom of religion or belief. It legally recognizes five organized religions — Buddhism, Taoism, Islam, Catholicism and Protestantism. All religious groups are required to register with the government and should obtain prior permission for activities as per the rules.

The Chinese Community Party (CCP) is accused by rights groups as one of the world’s worst violators of religious freedom due to the persecution of both recognized and unrecognized religious groups. – UCA News