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A group of former house church Christians ordered to stop meeting together in China, reports CSW

A group of former members of an unregistered house church in China have been ordered to stop meeting together after authorities in the south-west province of Guizhou accused them of carrying out illegal activities, according to religious freedom advocacy CSW.

The Christians are all former members of the Living Stone Church – an unregistered house church which started in Guiyang City in 2009 and grew to more than 700 members. CSW said it was effectively closed down by authorities with one of the pastors, Yang Hua, placed in detention for two-and-a-half years on charges of possessing state secrets before his release in June, last year, and another pastor, Su Tianfu, placed under house arrest in December, 2015, and last April given a year-long suspended prison sentence.

Despite the actions of authorities, members have continued to meet in small groups, said CSW, but under a notice issued on 31st July this year, authorities claimed the Christians were in violation of Article 40 of the Regulations on Religious Affairs under which religious activities should “in general” be held at approved sites – a regulation which one local Christian told CSW effectively outlaws house churches because only churches which are part of the state-sanctioned Three Self Patriotic Movement have been approved by the government.

As well as ordering the Christians to stop meeting together, authorities have also confiscated a projector, furniture and other property.

Mervyn Thomas, chief executive of the UK-based CSW, accused Chinese authorities of using the religious affairs regulations to “violate the right freedom of religion or belief, in contravention of international provisions protecting this fundamental human right”.

“Members of Living Stone Church have faced years of unjust hostility at the hands of the government, and CSW condemns the authorities’ order to prevent the Christians from meeting together,” he said in a statement.

“We call for the immediate repeal of this order and to cease all harassment of the church’s members. We also call for the immediate and unconditional release of Pastor Su Tianfu, and all those detained in connection with their religion or belief in China. The international community must take every opportunity in bilateral dialogues to raise the case of these Christians and other religious groups who are facing repression in China.”



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