Seven members of a Christian church have been detained by police in the southeastern province of Zhejiang in China, under accusations of embezzlement, according to state media and one of their lawyers on Tuesday.
Pastor Bao Guohua, his wife Xing Wenxiang, and 5 other staff members of Holy Love Christian Church have been accused of "deliberately hiding accounts, and on several occasions distorting the truth to incite social unrest among believers."
According to a police statement titled "Honest pastors' greedy lives," more than 20 pieces of jewelry and hundreds of thousands of yuan were found in Pastor Bao and his wife's home. The couple was taken by the police 2 weeks ago and have been denied access to their lawyers, according to Reuters.
Chen Jiangang, Bao's lawyer, told BBC that the detainment is solely for political reasons and occurred after the church refused to remove their church cross in June.
"Based on our current understanding of the situation, these charges are false," the lawyer told BBC. He added, "I can tell you that if church leaders had agreed to take down the cross, there would have been no problem. But they refused. That's why they were detained."
"What is unusual is that this was an official church, recognized by the Communist Party. Everything had been properly approved by the authorities."
Christians in China say that the local government of Zhejiang have been removing crosses and destroying churches beginning last year. The central government has been making more broad-scaled attempts to silence those who threaten their authority as well-- members of the New Citizens movement have been locked up for advocating more accountability from the government and hundreds of human rights lawyers have been detained.
The crackdown on civil groups is believed to be led by President Xi Jinping who came into power in 2012.
China is an officially atheist country under the power of the Communist Party. Though the country guarantees religious freedom under the constitution, churches in China are required to gain approval from the state.👉기독교 종합일간지 '기독일보 구독신청 바로가기'