By Stefan J. Bos, Chief International Correspondent, BosNewsLife
BEIJING, CHINA (BosNewsLife)– Christians in China’s Shaanxi Province are suing law enforcement authorities for “illegally” detaining and fining them and confiscating their personal properties, in a case that could impact house churches, BosNewsLife learned Saturday July 25.
China Aid Association (CAA) told BosNewsLife that leaders of Taochuan Village Christian Church, Liu Caili, Huang Sumin and Xu Fenying, filed the lawsuit on grounds “that their detentions, fines and the authorities’ confiscation of books have no legal basis.”
A Christian attorney, Wu Chenglian, was to represent the believers in court Wednesday, July 29 during the trial against Luonan County Public Security Bureau, one of China’s main law enforcement agencies.
The three Christians were arrested on June 14, when officers came to their homes and businesses and forcibly escorted them to the police station “without presenting identification or official summons,” CAA said. Liu Caili and Huang Shumin were reportedly sentenced to 10 days; Xu Fenying was given five days behind bars.
Chinese authorities have been cracking down on “unauthorized” worship services, saying they violate Chinese legislation and are often linked to “illegal” organizations or sects. Chinese authorities only allow previously approved religious services, mainly within the state-backed denominations.
Yet, millions of China’s estimated 130 million Christians prefer to gather outside government control.
The Christians suing the authorities next week allege their detention and confiscation of had no legal basis as Christians “spontaneously to study the Bible, not in the name of a social organization.”
They also said that a fine and the confiscation of Christian books was illegal “because the Chinese Constitution guarantees freedom of belief” and “authorities violated the legal procedure because they did not present identification or summons papers.”
CAA said local authorities want the Christians to close down their house church because the Christians have been supporting more rights for peasants in the village. The case is expected to be closely monitored by the growing house church movement in China, which has complained of growing harassment by authorities in several provinces of the country.