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Chinese Christians detained during Sunday liturgy

Early Rain Covenant Church has been under a state crackdown since 2018
Leaders and members of the Early Rain Covenant Church in Chengdu of China have faced persecution from the Communist regime since 2018

Leaders and members of the Early Rain Covenant Church in Chengdu of China have faced persecution from the Communist regime since 2018. (Photo: Church Partnership)

Published: March 16, 2023 04:24 AM GMT
Updated: March 16, 2023 05:50 AM GMT

Chinese police and religious affairs officials allegedly interrupted a Sunday liturgy, detained Christians, and assaulted church leaders in the southwestern part of the country, reports a rights group.

The premises of the Early Rain Covenant Church, an independent Protestant church in Chengdu of Sichuan province was raided when about 100 Christians gathered for Sunday worship on March 12, China Aid reported citing sources within China.

The church’s deacon, Jia Xuewei, and six members were arrested by plain-clothed officers and taken to Tuqiao police station for questioning. They were released in the evening.

Xuewei was allegedly beaten by police officers. Some church members were also reportedly beaten as they attempted to record the raid and assault with their mobile phones.

“Many believers’ families are monitored”

The church group issued a public statement to denounce the interruption of liturgy and forced detention of church members without any reason.

“The entire Chengdu police department knows there is a group of people to whom Sunday Service is very precious,” the statement said. “It is also in vain for the Chinese government to confine our brothers and sisters at home.”

The statement said the church’s pastor Wang Yi is imprisoned, and “many believers’ families are monitored” by the Chinese government.

The officials cut the power supply to the church and removed all the church members from the premises. However, the worship continued online under the leadership of Li Yingqiang and Dai Zhichao who were confined to their homes.

After the Sunday worship was over, some church members gathered in front of the police station singing hymns, praying for those arrested, and delivering food and water to them while waiting for their release.

The Early Rain Church has been targeted since 2018, when the Chinese Communist Party enacted its new Regulations on Religious Affairs.

“Provincial and local governments arbitrarily detained Chinese Christian leaders"

Some 200 members of the church have been arrested and its pastor Wang Yi was sentenced to nine years of criminal detention, according to Church Partnership, a group supporting churches in China.

In addition to the arrests, the Early Rain Church and personal property has been seized and destroyed, and many families have faced repeated eviction from their homes or deportation from Chengdu to their hometowns in distant provinces, it reported.

China Aid’s Persecution Report 2022 released in February said the Chinese government is accused of “fabricating criminal charges to detain, arrest, and sentence leaders and lay believers” in their effort to suppress Christianity.

“Provincial and local governments arbitrarily detained Chinese Christian leaders and believers from all over China. Prison authorities denied many of these prisoners attorney visits or contact with family,” the report read.

Another alarming accusation laid out in the report was the forced disappearance of Catholic clergy and laity.

The report listed the unexplained disappearances of Bishop Joseph Zhang Weizhu of Xinxiang diocese, Bishop Shao Zhumin of Wenzhou diocese, Bishop Dong Baolu from the Catholic Church in Shijiazhuang city, and 10 priests from Baoding diocese.

According to the report, Communist officials have also used raids, fines, harassment, and denial of rights to torture Christians.

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