Provoked by the mission work of a local house church, Chinese officials have reportedly arrested a female church pastor, her daughter and her three year old grandson In south-east China for public preaching, charged with violating the country’s controversial restrictions on religion.
Pastor Xu Shizhen and her daughter, Xu Yuqing, were arrested on September 22 for attempting to preach the gospel in public parks and squares in the city of Xianning, according to China Aid. Yuqing’s three-year old son was also detained.
The women are part of Zion Church, an unregistered ‘underground’ congregation that’s frequently been a target of Chinese authorities, since the state only permits religion in two approved, tightly monitored contexts: the Chinese Catholic Church and the Protestant Three-Self Patriotic Movement.
Shizhen and Yuqing were reportedly singing, dancing and preaching as part of their evangelistic efforts before being stopped by local security. Shizhen has had previous clashes with officials over her Christian activity. She was sent government notice in late August ordering her church to stop its missionary work, saying it was violating regulations on religious affairs.
It’s currently unknown whether the family’s detention was administrative or criminal, nor is it known where the family were taken since their detention.
The news follows September reports that China had tightened its ‘choke-hold’ on churches across the country.