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Officials Ban House Church in Sichuan; Believers Petition Government

Contact: Bob Fu, President, Bob@ChinaAid.org; Mark Shan, Spokesperson, Mark@ChinaAid.org; both with China Aid Association, 888-889-7757, 267-205-5210; www.ChinaAid.org; www.MonitorChina.org

GUANGYUAN, Sichuan, China, Sept. 21, 2011 /Christian Newswire/ -- Responding to a ban closing down their church, Christians belonging to the Shangxi House Church in the city of Guangyuan, in southwest China's Sichuan province, have petitioned the government arguing that it is in compliance with the law, ChinaAid has learned.

The Religious Affairs Bureau of Guangyuan's Lizhou District issued the ban on June 24, saying that the church leader was "not a clergyman and was engaged in religious activities at a venue not designated for religious activities."

Prior to the ban, government departments had repeatedly persecuted the church and ordered it to join the government-approved Three-Self Patriotic Movement church. But the house church refused.

In its Sept. 13 petition, the church cited several examples of persecution, including, "In April this year, dozens of people from the Religious Affairs Bureau and the Public Security Bureau on numerous occasions suddenly showed up in the hallway while we were holding meetings, forcing believers to register their names, ID card numbers, addresses and phone numbers. They also repeatedly forcibly took believers to the police station for interrogation. A woman police officer threatened the believers, saying the police had the authority to lock up the believers for two months." (See photo)

The petition sited many laws and regulations governing religious affairs to forcefully argue that the church is in compliance with the law. The petition in closing clearly reiterated the common heart's cry of China's house churches in response to persecution over the past 60 years: "What we do is simply for the faith. We want to meet together."