(Hongtang village, Zhejiang—Dec. 24, 2011) Members of a house church in coastal Zhejiang province determined to celebrate Christmas despite government orders forbidding them from doing so were beaten and detained for a second day on Saturday, which was Christmas Eve day.
The move against the Hongtang village house church in Huangtianfan township, Dongyang county, is part of an annual escalation of persecution against Christians in China during the Christmas season.
On Friday morning, as members of the Hongtang church were preparing for their Christmas meeting, they were attacked by police and village government and Communist Party officials and officials from the Religious Affairs Bureau, who specifically warned the church not to hold any Christmas celebrations on Saturday. In the attack, some believers were beaten, including Brother Luo Sennian, who was punched in the face.
On Saturday at 10 a.m., police and religious affairs bureau officials gathered outside the Hongtang church, standing guard. When dozens of church members showed up and started worshiping, the officials barged in shouting, “This is an illegal religious gathering!” They started shoving equipment around, destroying furniture, and driving the believers out of the meeting place.
Police beat and bloodied Brother Luo and his 23-year-old son, Luo Kaikai, then took them, Brother Luo’s wife, Chen Weiquan, and another woman believer, Zhao Hongjuan, to the local police station where they were detained and interrogated for 9-1/2 hours for “holding an illegal religious gathering.”
While they were in detention, Brother Luo received many phone calls from concerned Christians. ChinaAid founder and president Bob Fu personally called the police station to discuss the case and negotiate on the church members’ behalf. According to Brother Luo, the police became nicer and more polite at about 5 p.m., which was about an hour after Fu spoke to the police. The four Christians were released at 7:30 p.m.
Source: China Aid Society