Police swoop on Christian meeting points
Fearful of a fast-growing Christian church, police have stepped up their pressure on believers and closed hundreds of unregistered house churches in the past few months.
In Shanghai, more than 300 house churches or meeting points were closed in April alone and sources feared many more would be shut down by the end of the year.
Police not only targeted cults and charismatic Christians in their nationwide crackdown, but some mainstream factions like the Disciple Church were also affected.
Although no official deadline has been announced, churches that have not been registered with the authorities by the end of this year will be considered illegal and could face the risk of closure by the police.
One source said that at least two important meeting points in Shenzhen were closed down in the past month.
In one of the raids, two church leaders were detained and both had not been released as of last week. The source said Shenzhen police raided one meeting on the outskirts of the city two weeks ago and took away about 20 Christians.
They were all released after the two Christian leaders took responsibility for the meeting.
The swoop followed another raid on a house church in Shenzhen where police stormed into a gathering with 50 to 60 Christians.
However, it was not clear if the worshippers had been released.
Meanwhile, the Quanzhou Daily newspaper reported that police had shut more than 30 meeting points of a Christian sect called the 'Shouters' in Quanzhou, Fujian province.
The newspaper quoted police as saying that further action would be taken in order to wipe out the Shouters sect, which has infiltrated schools and recruited members from among the students.
It said a large number of publications and videos produced by the sect had been seized and several core members were under investigation.