Chinese police detains 30 Christians in house church raid

Chinese police officers reportedly detained and interrogated more than 30 Christians overnight after they raided a house church gathering in Guangdong province and beat those who tried to take pictures of the incident.

(REUTERS / Alex Lee / Files)A Chinese national flag flutters on the Pearl River near a construction site in Guangzhou, Guangdong province, March 27, 2014.

On May 3, more than 20 police officers barged in and interrupted the evening service of Zhongfu Wanmin Church in China's southern Guangdong province where they confiscated all the worshippers' cell phones, bank cards, and identification. They also detained more than 30 of the church members including Pastor Li Peng and an American couple with two children, China Aid details.

The police officers reportedly beat Pastor Li because he tried to take pictures of the raid. He was detained overnight and remained under police custody even after the rest of the church members were released the following day.

Pastor Li's wife, Huang Xiaorui, went to the police station but she was not allowed to visit her husband, nor was she given information on the pastor's situation. She also revealed that the detainees from the previous night's raid included a grandmother in her 80's and some children.

The Zhongfu Wanmin Church was accused of having an illegal gathering since the venue of their service was not registered with the government. Because of the presence of the American family during the gathering, the church was also accused of "accommodating foreigners," something that Huang denied.

"We never 'accommodated' any foreigners. We live in Tangxia. A couple in our church are Americans, but they are registered as Hong Kong residents," Huang explained. "They joined the Tangxia Church more than a decade ago, and they merely wanted to have a look at our church this Wednesday."

This is not the first time that Zhongfu Wanmin Church was raided by Chinese authorities. It has been persecuted by the government for several years now and has been subjected to seven raids in May and June last year.

The raid on the Guangdong church comes less than a month after China Aid ran a story on the detention of Taiwanese pastor Xu Rongzhang after he sang the song "Jesus Loves You." Apparently, the authorities in Henan province have outlawed the singing of the Christian song.

The police reportedly forced the Christians to write statements saying that they would never organize large events in the future. Pastor Xu, on the other hand, has been warned to limit the attendance for his services to a maximum of 10 people per group. The authorities also say their treatment of him was "lenient."

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