Judge lifts ban on activities for house church in Shandong

China Aid Association
(Linshu County, Shandong—March 21, 2014) A judge in China’s coastal Shandong province ordered a ban on a house church’s activities to be lifted on Wednesday after the church pastor submitted an administrative reconsideration for the restriction, which was put in place in April of last year.

The administrative reconsideration case, submitted to the Linshu County People’s Court against the county’s religious affairs bureau, lasted for two hours. While the verdict has not been released, the judge “demanded that Linshu County repeal the…administrative penalty,” Zhang Mingxuan, president of the Chinese House Church Alliance, said.

Wu Dawei, the church’s pastor, said that more than 20 Christians has gathered on April 25, 2013 when officials from the Linshu County Religious Affairs Bureau and the local police station entered the building and accused the believers of holding an illegal gathering. The officials never showed any identification.

In addition to banning church gatherings, the church was also fined more than 20,000 yuan (US$3,212). During the raid, another 6,119 yuan (US$983) was confiscated.

The following day, Wu and the church’s accountant were summoned to the police station. While the two were engaged with officers at the station, other policemen went to the church to search for evidence, Wu said. At that time, police seized donation money, computers and other property.

In the Notice of Decision of Administrative Penalty, the Linshu County Religious Affairs Bureau stated that the penalty had been imposed according to Article 42 of the Civil Religious Affairs. “They think our site is for illegal religious activities,” Wu said.

Wu defended the church’s activities, saying “Holding religious activities in one’s residence falls in the category of a house church and is permitted by the law. Believers can get together with their relatives and friends in their own homes, and it is protected by the law.”

“I submitted a reconsideration application at Linshu Municipal Government,” Wu said; however, the penalty was upheld. “We refused to accept the ‘original penalty’ and submitted a lawsuit, which was tried in court today.”

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Rachel Ritchie, English Media Director
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