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Underground church pastors arrested in China’s latest religious crackdown

Two pastors at one of Beijing’s largest unofficial Protestant churches have been detained by police over their religious activities, according to the church.

Xi Jiafu, a pastor at the Zion Church in the Chinese capital, was arrested last Wednesday by police on a charge of illegal assembly, and would remain in detention until this Saturday. He was also fined 500 yuan (US$77), the church said.

Another pastor, Huang Chunzi, was taken away from her home in Beijing by police on the same day, but for unclear reasons.

Huang was responsible for handling the church’s financial matters and editing videos and images, according to ipkmedia.com, a news website run by overseas Chinese. The authorities might want to look into the church’s financial conditions, the report said.

Following the duo’s arrest, the Zion Church asked its staff and members to take extra caution when going out alone as the authorities had recently stepped up their crackdown on churches.

The Zion Church, a “house” church that operates independently from state-sanctioned places of worship, has moved some of its services online after local officials stormed the church in September 2018.

The arrests came as the authorities recently shut down WeChat accounts that taught the Bible and a new law aimed at tightening control on religious workers came into effect on Saturday, said China Aid Association, a non-government organization based in the United States.

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