China prevents church service

Worshippers met at site, taken away in city bus

BEIJING – Beijing police on Sunday detained at least a dozen worshippers from a Christian house church who were trying to hold services in a public space after they were evicted from their usual place of worship.

Leaders of the unregistered Shouwang house church had told parishioners to gather at an open-air venue in Beijing for Sunday morning services, but police, apparently alerted to their plans, taped off the area and took away people who showed up to take part.

About a dozen people were escorted by police onto an empty city bus and driven away.

Christians in China are required to worship in state-run churches, but house churches are becoming increasingly popular, despite being technically illegal and subject to police harassment.

Shouwang had been holding services in a Beijing restaurant until last week, when they were evicted from that venue.

One parishioner who evaded police told the Associated Press that no one made it to the open-air mezzanine where services were to take place. The man would give only his English name, Kane, for fear of police reprisals.


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