China: 'Happy Easter. You're under arrest.'
Chinese authorities arrested dozens of "unregistered" evangelical Christians as they tried to hold services outside of an "unauthorized" church on Easter Sunday.
"Godless, heathen commies" may be an outdated epithet - but it fits. The Telegraph:
Dozens of Chinese Christians were arrested on Sunday when police prevented an evangelical Protestant church from holding its Easter Sunday service, as the state continued its attack on protests against one-party rule.
Security forces clashed with followers of a growing underground Protestant movement that was blocked from moving into a new meeting hall near Beijing, leading to three weeks of confrontation with the communist authorities.
Worshippers from the Shouwang, or "watch tower", church were taken away in buses, some defiantly singing hymns. Church leaders had issued a "fire and brimstone" cry for the congregation to worship outside the building even if it meant arrest and prosecution.
"The devil Satan has taken advantage of the authority God has granted to the national government and is seeking to destroy God's church," Pastor Jin Tianming wrote. "His devil's claws have finally been revealed. Satan get thee behind me!"
Up to 500 members of the Protestant house church movement, unregistered assemblies of worshippers that the government bans to prevent the rise of opposition, have been detained in recent weeks. Yesterday's arrests were a continuation of the authorities' increase in repression of dissenters to stop any chance of a revolution such as those seen in North Africa and the Middle-East.
They may as well try and stop the tides. There are an estimated 40 million underground Christians in China - unregistered, unauthorized, and in constant danger of harassment, arrest, and even prison. The Communists have correctly analyzed the threat; the Christians cannot be allowed outside of the box the authorities have locked them in because the gospel of Jesus Christ is, at bottom, the gospel of freedom; very powerful stuff in a state that locks down the human soul and stifles the human spirit.
No power on earth has yet stopped the march of Christianity - not the Soviets or Communists, not the Romans, or Nazis, or the barbarian hordes of the Dark Ages. Somehow, someday, the Good News will overwhelm its enemies in China and people will be free to worship as Christians.
When that day comes, China itself will be free.