Chinese Police Disrupt Children Vacation Bible School

( [email protected] ) Jul 19, 2007 08:14 AM EDT

Police raided a children vacation Bible school in the eastern Chinese province of Jiangsu, July 11, 2007, arresting leaders and teachers, injuring several people and dismissing 150 traumatized children.

Officers from the State’s Public Security Bureau (PSB) – assisted by local policemen – entered the church where the bible school was held during the afternoon, according to China Aid Association, which released details on the raid Thursday.

Two adult workers were injured after being beaten by the police. One believer, identified as Wang Ya in the report, remains hospitalized after having lost consciousness for half an hour after the attack. The other worker received three stitches.

The church’s pastor, Zeng Zhengliang, was arrested amongst several vacation Bible schoolteachers. The pastor was once a member of the government-approved Three-Self Patritotic Movement of Protestant Churches (TSPM) before being dismissed for not agreeing with the TSPM’s liberal, government-dictated theology.

Elsewhere, four house church leaders were rounded up by PSB military police in Wuhai city, in the northern Inner Mongolia Autonomous region, Saturday.

In the eastern province of Anhui, PSB officers detained a house church leader, July 10, claiming that the pastor was involved in “illegal religious activities.”

Government reaction to non-registered house churches vary according to region, with some officials tolerating mass gatherings of Christians while others crack down on small-group meetings.

Christians in China remain divided between government-approved churches and smaller unregistered house churches, but in a few cases believers were free to migrate between both churches.

China continues to come under fire by human rights advocates for its religious freedom situation as the nation prepares itself for the coming Summer 2008 Olympics scheduled to be held in Chinese capitol of Bejing.

In May, Amnesty International reported that abuses continued despite reforms to China’s death-penalty system and more freedom to foreign reporters.

A leading International Olympic Committee (IOC) official, Hein Verbruggen, said on Jul.5 that though the IOC was sympathetic, the committee would not allow protests to “disract us from our primary mission” to hold the games.

China Aid, as well as asking for the detainees’ release, urged U.S. President George W. Bush to place more pressure on China for its “deteriorating situation of religious persecution.”