The Chinese government has ordered a church closed.
This week, Chinese police raided Huoshi Church. The church is the largest unregistered church in Guiyang, Guizhou province. After the raid, the church officially closed Thursday, lead pastor Su Tianfu Su said.
Su said the congregation is “very upset.” The pastor added that the church assists in charitable work and helps orphans, the sick and the elderly.
The latest crackdown started Wednesday when police raided morning services. Church members said that police searched the church and took audio and video equipment.
One pastor was arrested after he refused to let police walk away with video camera recordings.
Recent crackdowns on religion have made “house churches” popular in China. It is estimated millions of Chinese are members of underground churches. Estimates of the size of China’s Christian population place their numbers at nearly 88 million people. Many of them are house church members.
That is why China’s critics say religious crackdowns continue.
Members of the Huoshi church think popularity doomed their parish. Six years ago, just a few people worshipped there. The membership increased to more than 700.
The latest church closure comes after thousands of Christian crosses were demolished at 400 churches in Zhejiang province.
Freedom of religion is part of China’s constitution. But human rights activists say the Chinese Communist Party has a poor record of preserving religious freedom.
I'm Mario Ritter.
Joyce Huang wrote this story for VOAnews.com. Jim Dresbach adapted it for Learning English.
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Words in This Story
crackdown – n. a serious attempt to punish people for doing something that is not allowed
pastor – n. a minister or priest in charge of a church or parish
orphan – n. a child whose parents are dead
underground – adj. referring to a place that is hidden or secret
doom– v. to make something certain to fail