Chinese police and national security agents raided a Christian worship service in the nation’s Sichuan province last week and arrested 13 believers.
Among those arrested in the November 9 raid were Elder Li Yingqiang and Pastor Dai Zhichao of Chengdu Early Rain Covenant Church, an independent Christian church regularly harassed by the Chinese Communist Party.
Elder Li and Pastor Dai had traveled to the city of Dazhou, where they held a worship service at the “Good Land Mission Center,” a subsidiary of Chengdu Early Rain Covenant Church. The service included baptisms and holy communion, according to reports by ChinaAid, a U.S.-based Christian charity.
During the worship service, held in a hotel conference room, more than ten police officers, national security agents, and staff from the religious affairs bureau and civil affairs bureau stormed the conference room.
Police took thirteen believers to Chaoyang police station, including Elder Li, Pastor Dai, and Hou Duoshu, the leader of the Dazhou mission center.
Officials eventually released Pastor Dai, An Yankui, and Wang Yingjie, but Elder Li and Hou Duoshu are still being detained.
Hou Duoshu served more than ten years in prison for participating in the June 4th Student Movement in 1989, linked to the Tiananmen Square incident that culminated in a harsh government crackdown on demonstrators in Beijing.
After being baptized in Chengdu Early Rain Covenant Church, Hou established the affiliated mission center in his hometown of Dazhou city.
The “Good Land Mission Center” has itself undergone severe religious persecution from the government, ChinaAid notes, and their Sunday services have been raided by police several times.
In October, the CCP passed the “Patriotic Education Law,” requiring churches and religious groups to adapt their educational activities to promote the Communist Party’s official ideology.
The new law states:
The state is to guide and support religious groups, religious institutes, and religious activity sites in carrying out patriotic education activities, enhancing religious professionals’ and believers’ identification with the great motherland, the Chinese people, Chinese culture, the Chinese Communist Party, and socialism with Chinese characteristics.
The law mandates that “all levels and types of school shall have patriotic education permeate the entire course of school education” and that even “the parents or other guardians of minors shall include love of the motherland in family education.”
The new legislation is part of President Xi Jinping’s “Sinicization” program, which seeks to force all religious leaders and institutions to demonstrably embrace State Socialism and the leadership of the atheistic CCP.
Thomas D. Williams is Breitbart Rome Bureau Chief and the author of The Coming Christian Persecution.