To Communists Marx is God
(RFA) - Authorities in Beijing have raided and shut down a large Christian church amid nationwide raids targeting Protestant groups, particularly those not registered as "patriotic" with the ruling Chinese Communist Party.
The bureau of civil affairs in Beijing's Chaoyang district issued a notice banning the Zion Church on Sunday, saying it had broken rules by organizing mass gatherings without registering with the authorities.
Photos sent by church members to RFA showed police officers sitting outside the church's now-shuttered entrance following a raid during which police confiscated the church's "illegal promotional literature."
Xu Yonghai, an elder of the Beijing house church Christian Saints Love Fellowship, said the church has now been "sealed off" by police, and its members forbidden to gather there.
"Our brothers and sisters can't get inside any more," Xu said. "The police and religious affairs bureau officials sought [church leaders] out for a chat."
"I don't know where they are going to meet for worship after this," he said.
Social media posts by Zion Church members said police descended on the church as soon as the Sunday service was over, in a huge operation that saw fire and rescue vehicles, ambulances and large buses parked outside the building where the church was located.
A church elder surnamed Yi said more than 100 police officers and government officials had burst into the church premises on Sunday, detaining some church members who tried to stop them shutting the place down.
"There were a lot of police vehicles, and even fire and rescue vehicles and ambulances," Yi said. "Their pretext was that we hadn't registered [with the government-backed Three-Self Patriotic Association of Chinese Protestants]."
"About 200 people came [to resist], but they couldn't get back inside the church by that time," he said. "About 15 people were taken aboard the bus."
"We can't get in; they have even changed the locks, and left people to stand guard," Yi said. "
An officer who answered the phone at the Chaoyang district police department declined to comment when contacted by RFA on Monday.
"I don't really know about this," the officer said. "You should contact the propaganda department."
But repeated calls to the Chaoyang district propaganda department and the department of civil affairs rang unanswered during office hours on Monday.
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