China targets house churches, detains members and pastor's family in Xinjiang

Authorities in China detained members of several house churches in Xinjiang and even confined a pastor's entire family to their home as part of the state's ongoing religious persecution.

According to a Christian persecution watchdog group in the Communist state, China Aid, another incident of a religious clampdown took place earlier this month in the northwestern province of Xinjiang.

Believers stand in a line to receive a communion during a weekend mass at an underground Catholic church in Tianjin November 10, 2013. | REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon

Cele County police officers arrested on the night of July 10 and detained for a day Lu Yingli, wife of a pastor in Hetian, Zhong Shuguang, after he posted a message online that declared the religious persecution among Christians in the province. The pastor prayed for the officials to be enlightened and to allow the Christians in the country to live without fear. For his fellow Christians, Shuguang prayed that they be endowed with the Spirit and traits to help them uphold their faith.

Although Shuguang does not own a church building for formal meetings among his members, authorities continue to persecute him as they confiscated his property and even fined him three times between 2012 and 2013 for holding religious meetings.

Officials also raided on July 7 and detained for a day members of several house churches in Hetian.

Authorities detained to their home in the Ili Kazakh Autonomous Prefecture Pastor Lou Yuanqi and his entire family after refusing to grant them train tickets.

"Our children do not live at home; only one daughter lives at home," the pastor told China Aid. "The rest of our children are in Urumqi. The public security bureau called us and asked us to tell them to come home. I asked why, and they said to gather their information, take their pictures and conduct blood tests. I said they have all married and started their careers ... this is too unreasonable to do. A while ago, they even took away my ID card and returned it later."

The persecution of house churches in Xinjiang follows the crackdown last month on several house churches in Guangdong where authorities sealed the doors of the church buildings and even cut off their power and water supply.