In the latest anti-Christian incident to make headlines in China, a pastor, her daughter and her toddler grandson were all arrested after exercising their faith in a park, according to a disturbing report from ChinaAid.
But that’s not the only recent story that should cause concern. Below, check out five stories that show the ongoing — and horrific — levels of anti-Christian persecution that continue to rage in China:
1) Three People Reportedly Detained for Spreading the Gospel
ChinaAid reported earlier this month that the arrests of a pastor, her daughter and grandson unfolded on Sept. 22 and were based on “the mission work of a local house church” in China. A statement explains:
On the night of Sept. 22, police and religious affairs bureau personnel seized Pastor Xu Shizhen, her daughter, Xu Yuqing, and Xu Yuqing’s three-year-old son, Xu Shouwang, after the two women took part in Zion Church’s efforts to spread the Gospel in local public parks and squares. During these evangelistic efforts, the women sang, danced, performed with bamboo instruments, and preached, even though the local religious affairs, public security, and national security bureaus frequently interrupted them.
When their family members went to the police station on Sept. 24, the police told them that they had separated the women from the child, keeping him at the station while transferring his grandmother and mother to other facilities. It is unknown whether they are under criminal or administrative detention.
Xu Shizhen had reportedly been asked by China’s religious affairs bureau back in August to stop missionary activity, but on Sept. 13 church members — including the pastor and members of her Zion Church — were in a local square in Xianning sharing their faith when they found themselves in the government’s crosshairs, The Christian Times reported.
The apparent arrests come as China is cracking down on faith with some new regulations that largely confine church activity — especially missionary activity — to churches. Those restrictions, which technically aren’t set to go into effect until February, include bans on collecting funds, renting space or publishing religious material without permission, according to Christianity Today.
2) A Pastor Arrested for Singing “Jesus Loves Me”
A pastor from Taiwan was arrested earlier this year after leading a group of Christians in singing the popular song, “Jesus Loves Me,” according to an organization that works to expose human rights abuses in China. Pastor Xu Rongzhang was detained in Zhengzhou, China, after he joined a group in singing the popular faith tune, according to China Aid.
“Officials stated that the song was an illegal religious activity and detained Xu on April 15,” the organization said in a statement posted on its website. “They also took his identification documents and permit to travel to mainland China and did not return them until April 17, even though Xu was released on the same day that he was taken into custody.”
Read more about the incident here.
3) Imprisoned for Holding a Bible Study
And, as Faithwire reported in January, a Chinese woman was reportedly thrown in prison for hosting a Bible study in her home. Ma Huichao was allegedly arrested along with a group of four others and was subsequently charged with three years in prison after being accused of holding the Bible study without government permission.
Huichao went on trial in mid-November, with China Aid reporting that her attorney, Li Dunyong, wasn’t permitted to plead innocent on his client’s behalf, leading her to receive a three-year prison sentence, which she reportedly began on Dec. 30.
4) Children Can’t Join Religious Groups
Chinese authorities have banned children from joining religious groups in an effort to crack down on religious practices, according to reports. The ban also prohibits minors from attending religious sermons and from participating in religious activities, the Daily Mail reported, citing Chinese media.
The effort to exert more control began several years ago when churches in Zhejiang province were ordered to remove crosses from the buildings. More recently, in early August, more than one hundred churches in Wenzhou, in Zhejiang province, reportedly received notices from government officials informing them that children will be banned from entering. The churches were also told that they were no longer allowed to organize youth summer camps. Read more about it here.
5) Christians Aren’t Giving Up