(Beijing—Jan. 15, 2015) Police in Beijing dispersed more than 25 people at a house church gathering on Sunday and took more than 20 of those worshippers in for interrogations.
Shunyi District’s Guoshulin Church, home to dozens of Christians who travel to and from Beijing for work or other matters, was holding a Bible study at 8 p.m. on Sunday when more than 10 officers from the Gaoliying Police Station raided the gathering.
“As we finished our worship, a missionary had just got to the podium to lead us in reading passages from the Bible, and we were praying when the police raided us,” a Guoshulin Church member said. “They told us to stop the gathering. There were about 27 people in the gathering. The police took all the people who didn’t have identification cards to the local police station; there were more than 20 [without ID cards]. The police also took several copies of Bibles and hymnals.”
“The director of the police station is Li Jincheng, the same police officer who raided us last year. When Li Jincheng left last time, he tried to erase all the information for the projectors off our computers. However, they failed to erase all the information as time was quite tight for them, but they did erase a lot of information. The police also said they wouldn’t allow us to gather again. They said we must move out of Gaoliying,” the Christian said.
Another worshipper, who was detained and interrogated, said that the Christians were released around 10:30 p.m. Sunday night.
“The police wanted us to take out all the stuff we had on us and took information from our cell phones. They checked our identification cards, and after they made a written record, they let us go,” he said. “They said our gathering was an illegal assembly and was unlawful. When we got to the police station, they said that the site is illegal and that we must not go to that site again.”
China Aid tried to contact Li Jincheng at the Gaoliying Police Station, but our phone calls were not returned.
When we spoke with an official named Jia from the Gaoliying Township Government’s Religious Affairs Bureau, he said that the gathering was illegal because it was held at an unapproved site.
Police have consistently harassed Guoshulin Church, demanding that they attend a government-sanctioned church. However, church members refuse to attend a Three-Self church because they believe that the founding ideas of the churches are different, worshippers said.
In July 21, 2014, the church was raided by the Shunyi Religious Affairs Bureau, the Gaoliying Police Station and other government agencies. Worshippers were forced to disperse, and authorities broke open a donation box, seized Bible, hymnals and other religious materials, claiming the gathering was illegal.
Before that, in October 2013, a gathering of 25 worshippers was dispersed by more than 20 Gaoliying police officers and officials from other government agencies. They destroyed facilities in the gathering place and confiscated five boxes of Bibles.