Pastors arrested in China over allegedly refusing to allow the authorities to tear down crosses from their churches.
According to Radio Free Asia, Chinese authorities in the eastern Chinese province of Zhejiang are continuing with a cross demolition campaign. The authorities are tearing down “illegal” Christian crosses as local Christians continue to resist.
In recent events, demolitions have been carried out in provincial capital Wenzhou, Taizhou, Huzhou and Jinhua cities. Crosses were taken down from the tops of churches in recent days. However, the state media terms this demolition drive as a building safety campaign.
In the wake of these events, 16 Christian believers and pastors were hooked by police after they got engaged in resisting clashes with the cross demolition gangs. Out of these 16, according to lawyer for the church members 8 are yet to be released.
Lawyer Pang Kun, says, “They were detained because they refused to allow the cross to be taken down, and so they arrested them,” adding,” only seven of the detainees were known to be under criminal detention, while the status of the eighth had yet to be confirmed.”
Pastor Pang says, “They are all being held on suspicion of ‘running an illegal business,’ ‘obstructing official duty,’ and ‘running secret accounting procedures,’ random stuff like that.
“This is about the fact that they were opposed to the removal of the cross from their church, and this is a form of revenge against them,” he said. “They want to send any church that doesn’t comply into disarray.”
“This is an unreasonable act of revenge, which seriously violates the rights of these believers to freedom of religious belief,” he added. “It is also against the law.”For the meantime, Christians in Wenzhou said that the authorities arrested eight local pastors and preachers, none of whom had been released.
Another pastor said, “They were called in for a chat and I don’t think they’ve come out since, because I have asked about them, It is probably something to do with the crosses.”
According to a church member in Wenzhou’s Pingyang county, where a large cross was removed from a local church lpastor Zhang Chongyang was also taken away by police.“He was called in for questioning by police, and he is now under formal summons,” the church member said.
“As a pastor, I believe that we should stand firm but ensure no blood is shed,” the pastor said. “We need more people power, to run a non-violent resistance campaign to the bitter end.”