Date:                April 24, 2020


(Cili County, Hunan—April 24, 2020) Authorities arrested a church founder on a trumped-up charge of “inciting subversion of state power” this month.Zhao Huaiguo, who established Bethel Church, has been targeted by the officials for not merging his church into the Three-Self Patriotic Movement [TSPM]. The TSPM is China’s state-run and censored network of churches. Last year, the church was banned, with the government saying Zhao illegally preached and distributed Christian pamphlets.10 days prior, around 50 government agents broke into the church and destroyed some of its property. They also seized Bibles, hymnals, and musical instruments. Zhao and other Christians were then interrogated.From March-December of last year, the local public security bureau took preachers at the church away for questioning and made them sign a commitment not to continue their religious practices. In addition, since Zhao’s arrest, the authorities have been investigating the amount and source of the church’s offerings, trying to find evidence against Zhao. However, the Christians are refusing to answer their questions.

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