Chinese Pastor Arrested After Refusing State Surveillance Of Church
A Chinese pastor has been detained and the church building illegally tampered with after the congregation refused to come under state surveillance.
Jin Tianming, who leads Shouwang Church, Beijing, resisted pressure to join the Three-Self Patriotic Movement, (TSPM), the state-approved Protestant body, in 2009.
Once churches join the TSPM they must accept government supervision and approval.
Now Jin is under house arrest and church members harassed, according to persecution watchdog China Aid. Government agents monitor Jin's house at all times and is wife is not allowed out on Sundays. Visitors are heavily restricted and only allowed to see him at 4pm each day.
Officials offered to release him in exchange for the congregation refusing to meet outside. But Jin told his congregation not to accept to deal, according to China Aid.
Shouwang Church was initially evicted from their building and started to meet outside. But after sustained pressure from the authorities who routinely came to disperse their meetings, the congregation is now split into various house groups, fearing to meet centrally.
Now the persecution charity has learnt their building has been renovated illegally, doubling its value and leading to fears the developer could force them out indefinitely.
A statement from the watchdog read: 'China Aid exposes the suffering inflicted on Shouwang Church to stand in solidarity with persecuted Christians and promote religious freedom, human rights, and rule of law.'
China is ranked 39th on Open Door World Watch List of 50 countries where Christians face the most persecution.
'The church is the largest social force in China not controlled by the Communist Party,' the annual report noted.
'As a result, there are increasing efforts to restrict the way Christians operate. A considerable number of Christians are still imprisoned. Violence is at a very high level and is increasing. Church meetings continue to be disrupted in several provinces. Churches were also closed and landlords pressured to stop renting premises to Christians.'