in Beijing, China have rounded up dozens of followers of an underground Protestant church Sunday, a rights group said, as a widening crackdown on dissent appeared to spread to religious figures.
Late Saturday the police detainedTianming, a senior pastor of Beijing's Shouwang church, an unregistered Protestant congregation, and other church leaders before releasing them early Sunday, the US-based China Aid group said.
Jin's detention came after the church called for an outdoor worship meeting following a similar gathering last Sunday that resulted in police rounding up nearly 170 church followers, most of whom were later released.
The action against the church comes amid a growing crackdown on dissent across China in which artists, lawyers, writers, activists and intellectuals have been detained for allegedly calling for "Jasmine" rallies, similar to those that have rocked the Arab world.
The Shouwang church, one of Beijing's largest "underground" churches, was forced outdoors after the government blocked the rental of its previous place of worship and prevented it from buying a new meeting place, China Aid said.
The church has adamantly denied it has any links to the Jasmine rally calls. The police in Beijing have refused to comment on the detention of Jin and other senior church leaders.
The Chinese Constitution allows for religious freedoms, but those who wish to worship God must register their church group to receive official approval (and many report restrictions). There are about 50 million Chinese who worship in unregistered churches or home churches. These are the ones most subject to persecution.
"And ye shall be hated of all men for my name's sake (for the name of Jesus): but he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved." (Mark 13:13)