(Bozhou, Anhui–Dec. 20, 2012) A clash between a house church in coastal China’s Anhui province and the violent cult “Eastern Lightning” resulted in more than 40 people from both groups being detained, prompting other Eastern Lightning members to attack the police, ChinaAid has learned.
The clash last Monday, Dec. 10, in Bozhou city, was just one of a series of incidents since last week in which local authorities have moved against Eastern Lightning groups in provinces and cities across China.
After the detentions in Dayang town, other Eastern Lightning followers on Dec. 18 demanded that the Public Security Bureau release their members, overturning a police vehicle and injuring several police officers in the process.
Almost all of China’s house churches support the efforts of local authorities to crack down, in accordance with the law, on Eastern Lightning, which calls itself a Christian group but has has long used violence to harm and persecute house churches, as well as endangering social order.
However, these local governments must act in accordance with the law and ensure that freedom of religion and freedom of speech and peaceful assembly, which are enshrined in the Chinese constitution, are protected. In particular, care should be taken not to implicate house church believers in the process, but rather to differentiate between peaceful, law-abiding religious believers and those who engage in criminal activities under the guise of religion, so as to avoid this becoming a political movement that grows and harms innocent citizens.
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Rachel Ritchie, English Media Director
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