Local police in a northeast China province raided a Christian Bible study held at a Communist Party school on Jan. 1, reported China Aid Association on Monday.
A group of Christians gathered in an office at the school, where the local cadres of the Communist Party are trained, to celebrate the New Year by studying the Bible in Baoding City, Hebei Province.
The local Public Security Bureau (PSB) raided the gathering at 10 a.m. (local time) and arrested over 40 Christians for interrogation, reported CAA. Most of the Christians were released by 6 p.m. the same day. Among those arrested was Dr. Li Baiguang, one of the most renowned Christian legal activists from Beijing. He was named as one of Asia Newsweek’s “Person of the Year” in 2005 and met with President Bush in May to discuss freedom of expression and religion in China.
The host of the Bible study was Professor Geng Sude, who is the vice president of the Communist Party school. She is an underground Christian intellectual among Chinese house churches. Currently, Geng is under tight surveillance.
Recently, the director of the Chinese State Administration for Religious Affairs (SARA), Yie Xiaowen, said that the number of Christians in China has reached 130 million, including 20 million Catholics, during internal meetings at Beijing University and Chinese Academy of Social Science, according to a CAA source.
The Chinese government often underestimates the number of Christians in officially released figures by not counting unregistered house churches.
“The unprecedented growth of the Chinese church has happened under ceaseless persecution,” said CAA President Bob Fu in a statement. “We pray that China will realize true religious freedom soon.”