China: Three Christians arrested for possessing religious materials

A government seal on a church door in Guangdong province.

Originally published in China Aid

Local police detained three Christians in China’s southern Guangdong province on May 30 for receiving various religious materials, including a Bible.

On the evening of May 30, authorities took two Christians from their workplaces and one from a residence for possessing religious literature. Shortly afterwards, officials released one of them, but the other two, a couple taken into custody for receiving a Bible, remain in detention. The church does not currently know when they will be released.

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This event is the latest in a long run of persecution against members of Zhongfu Tongxin Church. Authorities began persecuting the church on August 18, 2015, after its members refused to join the government-sanctioned Three-Self Patriotic Movement. They imposed a ban on its services for “conducting illegal religious activities” and sealed the door to the church.

Guo, a woman in charge of the church, visited the chief of the local religious affairs bureau and then appealed to higher authorities in Guangzhou. Due to the pressure, officials removed the seal but pushed the landlord to terminate the church’s contract.

Religious materials confiscated
On February 8, officials took church member Jian Junying to the local public security bureau for preaching to people on the streets. They confiscated the religious materials he used and demanded to know where he had gotten them.

According to Guo Baosheng, a US-based pastor of a Chinese church, government personnel have employed various methods of harassing churches, including robbing a church in Dongguan and urging house church attendees to join the Three-Self Patriotic Movement, all of which he ties to the National Work Conference on Religions held earlier this year.

“Some church pastors participated in the conference and later pointed out that, in fact, the true, core topic of [the officials’] discussions was the problem of house churches and Christians establishing private meeting places,” Guo Baosheng said. “Xi Jinping and other religious officials all believe that private Christian meeting places need to be strictly regulated, [and that churches that join] the Three-Self Church and accept government management should bring other churches into [the Three-Self Church].”

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