BEIJING (AP) — Chinese police detained at least a dozen Christians belonging to an unregistered Beijing church as the congregants gathered Sunday to hold Easter services.
Police stopped the worshippers from the unregistered Shouwang church at they gathered near a public plaza in the city’s university district, then bussed them to a local police station. It was not immediately clear whether they were arrested.
Shouwang members have been trying to meet at the plaza in Beijing’s Haidian district every Sunday since the congregation was evicted from its usual rented place of worship three weeks ago, but they have been detained or put under house arrest each time.
A church member told The Associated Press by phone Saturday night that he and the church’s pastors and leaders were all under house arrest. The member would give only his English name, Kane, for fear of reprisals by officials.
While China’s Constitution guarantees freedom of religion, Christians are required to worship in churches run by state-controlled organizations — the Three-Self Patriotic Movement for Protestants and the Chinese Patriotic Catholic Association for Catholics.