More members of Shouwang arrested in China on eighth week showdown
For the eighth consecutive week, authorities of Beijing arrested members of the Christian Shouwang church for showing up for Sunday service in an open air venue last May 29.
Authorities in Beijing arrested 22 members of Shouwang church, which has been trying to hold worship services outdoors after it was evicted from a facility it was renting and not allowed to inhabit a building that it paid for, according to the Baptist Press.
The number of arrests would probably have been much higher, but most of the 1,000-strong members of the church had been placed under house arrest. Of those arrested, 21 were set free at midnight, and the last one was released the following day, BP
In a statement, the church said, “After eight outdoor worship services, we may feel tired and may sometimes unconsciously become lax in our spirits and actions. Therefore, in this continuing fight, we need all the more to pray for our alertness, support each other, encourage each other and press forward with the extra strength and power given by the Lord,” BP reported.
The arrests of Shouwang church members is as follows: “More than 160 were arrested the first week…about 50 were arrested the second week, approximately 40 on the third week, about 30 on the fourth week, 13 the fifth week, 20 the sixth week and 25 the seventh week,” the BP said.
A petition that was submitted on May 10 and signed by 17 pastors of house churches in different cities in China aired its support for Shouwang and asked the National People’s Congress to act on the issue, the China Aid Association website said.
The petition requested the NPC to investigate the Shouwang incidents, review the Regulations on Religious Affairs and enact a law of the People’s Republic of China on the Protection of Freedom of Religious Beliefs, the CAA website reported.
The Chinese government has responded by implementing a defamation campaign against Shouwang church. Rev. Bob Fu, CAA president said on its website, “Last week, the director of the State Administration for Religious Affairs of the State Council convened a nationwide meeting of leaders of Three-Self churches from 15 provinces and municipalities.”
Fu said on the CAA website that the government was telling the Three-Self churches “not to heed Shouwang Church’s own statement of faith and [was] repeatedly slandering Shouwang Church. One can see that the authorities are getting ready for a large-scale defamation campaign against Shouwang Church.”
After the May 10 petition was submitted by house churches, authorities began to use words such as “anti-cult” in reference to its actions against Shouwang. Fu added that detained church members, when interrogated, were told that Shouwang is a cult and that they were brainwashed, the CAA website said.
Fu believes this indicates the Chinese government will try to destroy Shouwang’s reputation to isolate it from other house churches. The government will say Shouwang is not representative of Christianity, the CAA website reported.
Mainstream Catholic church
However, the Chinese government may have a difficult time doing this. Recently, a joint declaration signed by 500 international church leaders was signed in support of Shouwang, the CAA website said. Signatories included Chuck Colson and the president of Advocates International, which is the largest Christian lawyers organization in the world.
It will also be difficult to misrepresent Shouwang because the church is part of the mainstream Catholic church with Shouwang members in mainstream churches in Canada and the U.S., the CAA website said.