By BosNewsLife News Center
BEIJING, CHINA (BosNewsLife) -- Three "Prayer Mountain" church buildings in China's Wenzhou city of Zhejiang province are facing "imminent destruction" by the local government, fellow Christians and human rights watchers said Saturday, July 14.
Local authorities reportedly issued an ultimatum to destroy the three churches by next week. Most of the local house church leaders have been warned they will be arrested if they resist the government destruction efforts, said religious rights monitoring group China Aid Association (CAA).
The three buildings built about 10 years ago on three different mountains were used as areas where believers pray everyday. Up to 800 believers gather at every building for larger meetings, once a month, Christians said.
"Because there are more 'house churches' than the government sanctioned churches, the local government has been determined to destroy these church buildings by accusing the believers of following an evil cult," said religious rights monitoring group China Aid Association (CAA).
HOUSE CHURCH MOVEMENT
The "Prayer Mountain" churches are apparently seen as part of the rapidly spreading house church movement in China. The term 'house churches' refers to congregations held in homes of individual Christians or in other buildings outside the state-supported denominations.
From 1997 to 2003, the local government bombed or occupied 11 house church buildings at Yongjia County alone, CAA claimed.
"To destroy church buildings used for prayer is very deplorable," said Rev. Bob Fu," a former house church pastor and current CAA president.â€ We urge the Chinese central government to help stop this type of barbaric acts by the local government."
Human rights groups claim Chinese authorities have stepped up a crackdown on Christian activities ahead of the 2008 Beijing Olympics to deter Chinese and foreign Christians of preaching the Gospel to people outside their own communities.
Chinese officials have argued however they only carry out the law. They say Christians are free to worship in China's official Protestant and Catholic churches. (With reporting from China).
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