China: Pastor detained for singing “Jesus Loves You”

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Chinese authorities have detained a pastor for singing worship song, “Jesus Loves You.” The incident occurred in Zhengzhou, Henan when the officers branded his singing of worship song as an “illegal religious activity.”

Christian persecution in China

Christian persecution watchdog ChinaAid reports that a Taiwanese pastor Xu Rongzhang, has been arrested by the Chinese authorities for singing worship song. He was detained just a day before Easter, on Saturday April 15. He was reportedly arrested for leading a group of Christians in Zhengzhou to sing “Jesus Loves You.”

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ChinaAid reported that Pastor Xu was released later on, same day but the authorities ceased his identification documents and permit to travel to mainland China. His documents were also returned on Easter Monday. It was also reported that the officials did not explain the reason why singing “Jesus Loves You” was considered illegal. In the recent months, Chinese authorities have arrested several Christians for participating in church related activities.

United States Commission for International Religious Freedom (USCRIF) reported: “In May 2015, authorities in Zhejiang Province circulated draft regulations governing the color, size and location of religious signs, symbols, and structures. While the regulations apply to all religious markers, the move aligned with provincial officials’ systematic efforts in recent years to forcibly remove church crosses in Zhejiang Province, an area with a high concentration of Christians.

Officially branded the “Three Rectifications and One Demolition” campaign, Chinese authorities use the pretext of building code violations to target houses of worship, particularly churches, as illegal structures. By some estimates, the number of cross removals and church demolitions totaled at least 1,500, and many who opposed these acts were arrested.

The campaign reached such intensity in 2015 that, even government-approved churches and the provincial arms of the government-run Catholic Patriotic Association and Protestant Christian Council publicly expressed alarm, including in a public letter written by the government-appointed bishop of Wenzhou, Zhejiang Province and co-signed by several priests.

Although Chinese authorities released several parishioners and pastors throughout the year, they continued to summon, question, detain, and even arrest clergy and parishioners of unregistered house churches, such as at Huoshi Church in Guizhou Province.”

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