China Detains Church Members at Easter Services
The crackdown on the Shouwang house church in Beijing intensified over the Easter weekend. From the New York Times:
The authorities stepped up a three-week campaign against an underground Christian church on Sunday, detaining hundreds of congregants in their homes and taking at least 36 others into custody after they tried to hold Easter services in a public square, church members and officials said.
[...] Most of those seized on Sunday morning were taken away in buses after they showed up at the plaza, which is not far from several of the country’s top universities. A CNN crew said they were briefly detained and had their credentials confiscated before being turned away by the police.
Several church members, all of whom requested anonymity for fear of further provoking the authorities, say they were confined to their homes by security agents, some as early as Thursday, in an effort to keep them from joining Easter services. ChinaAid, a Christian advocacy group based in the United States, put the number of those under temporary house arrest at 500, although that figure could not be immediately verified.
On Sunday night, Shouwang’s Web site was blocked and its chief pastor, Jin Tianming, could not be reached by phone. In an e-mail circulated last week, church leaders asked parishioners to make their way to the elevated walkway where services were supposed to take place even though they would probably be intercepted by the police.
The letter took note of the upcoming Easter holiday and likened the congregation’s struggle to the tribulations endured by Jesus Christ before his crucifixion.
Read more about the Shouwang Church via CDT.