Anhui pastor detained second time for same ‘crime’

China Aid
Reported and written in Chinese by Qiao Nong. Translated by Brynne Lawrence. Edited by Rachel Ritchie.

(Chuzhou, Anhui—Oct. 2, 2015) A pastor in China’s coastal Anhui province was administratively detained for 15 days on Sept. 20 by local police who accused him of “spreading cult teachings.”

Authorities in Chuzhou, Anhui, detained Pastor Lü Jiangyang of Qiaotou House Church on Sept. 20 because of a summer camp the church had held for minors.

According to wife, he was also detained for the summer camp, which took place on July 28, when more than 100 officers from the religious affairs bureau, public security bureau and police station in the city of Mingguang, a division of Chuzhou, raided the summer camp, which was attended by 20 elementary and secondary school students.

Additionally, Pastor Lü told the reporter that during the attack, one of the church members was taken to the police station for interrogation. The church member’s cell phone was confiscated and his hands were twisted until they were injured.

Following the raid, the Mingguang Municipal Religious Affairs Bureau issued the church an administrative penalty notice, which stated that the church’s “private meeting time” was actually a religious activity that violated religious affairs bureau regulations. According to said regulations, the church’s administrative punishment was to “immediately stop religious activities.”

Mingguang Public Security Bureau officers detained Lü again on Sept. 20. According to Pastor Zhang Mingxuan, president of the Chinese House Church Alliance, “Three police cars went to arrest . His wife was outside when the police arrived. The police said Lü was in a cult and detained him”

Lü’s wife said she told the officers that she and Lü are Christians and that the law safeguards religious belief. She said that as of Sept. 23, she hadn’t been allowed to communicate with Lü and she hadn’t received a detention notice.

Officers did not tell Lü or his wife the exact reasons behind his Sept. 20 detention; however, his wife believes it has something to do with the church’s July summer camp. “I heard one of the town’s leaders say that he had determined that Lü was a cult leader.”

Pastor Zhan Gang, president of the Chinese House Church Alliance, says the organization is currently thinking of a way to help Pastor Lü by providing legal service. Zhan said Lü is a “profoundly supportive pastor who participates in the Alliance and its activities.”

“The church Lü leads has been very influential locally,” Zhan said. “Because he participates in some of the Chinese House Church Alliance, he often experiences government harassment. This time, local officials cited the summer camp as justification and attacked his house church.”

According to unofficial statistics, there are 17-30 million Christians in the government-sanctioned Three-Self Patriotic Movement while there are an estimated 45-60 million Christians in China’s underground church. Strict laws restrict the religious belief of minors due to the Chinese government’s fear that religious power is gradually expanding.

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