A fourth pastor in China has been arrested for "disobedience" to the Communist government's regulations on religious affairs, prompting one faith leader to warn the regime is "essentially cultivating God's wrath and judgment."
International Christian Concern reoprts that Pastor Huang Xiaoning from Guangzhou Bible Reformed Church (GBRC) was detained for five days by the police for "disrupting public services" on November 10. His arrest marks the fourth time a pastor in China has been detained for 'disobedience' regarding the latest regulations on religious affairs published last February.
The following morning, a few police officers were stationed outside of the church to discourage members from attending worship. Church members also found the church's door being sealed off a day prior without proper procedure or documentation.
GBRC has repeatedly refused to shut down the church or join a state-sanctioned church as previously requested by the authorities and, as a result, faces constant harassment and threats from the local authorities.
The country's Regulations for Religious Affairs that came into force in February, states that Chinese citizens are entitled to the right of freedom of religious belief. However, the rules also include restrictions on religious schooling and the times and locations of religious celebrations, as well as monitoring of online religious activity. Additionally, religious organizations must register with one of five state-sanctioned patriotic religious associations, which are supervised by the State Administration for Religious Affairs (SARA).
China Aid notes that in July, was forced to stop its meeting for a third time in a month following a police raid, during which a number of Christians were arrested for questioning.
"We had just begun [the service] when 30-40 personnel from the State Food and Drug Administration, the cultural law enforcement brigade, as well as the police, came and raided the venue where we gather," Pastor Huang Xiaoning told China Aid. "We had to stop our worship. Now, I have to go with them. People from the religious affairs bureau found me to question me."
That same day local authorities had sent a notice ordering the church to stop its activities, having already issued previous notices to "stop illegal education." The church was also fined 50,000 yuan (US $7,500) by the local religious affairs bureau.
Pastor Wang Yi from Autumn Rain Covenant Church in Sichuan, urged believers to "repeatedly tell the ones in power that to disrupt Sunday worship and disband churches is the evilest crime in this world."
"If this crime does not cease, this regime is essentially cultivating God's wrath and judgment, until the whole country is impacted and overturned overnight," he warned. "And how do we inform them? It is to tell them that we are willing to go into police stations, detention centers, and prisons. We are willing to sacrifice our lives for this, because we truly hate to see the whole nation under great disaster. Lord, have mercy on this nation, and give us the courage to disobey [the government]."
Gina Goh, ICC's Regional Manager, said that disturbance of church services and detention of Christians are becoming "much more frequent as the Chinese government continues its campaign to crack down on Christianity," such atrocities will not go unnoticed.
"The world is paying attention and Beijing will never succeed in its scheme to control the Church," she said.