BEIJING, China Chinese authorities have detained at least 10 house church pastors who were involved in the Third Lausanne Congress on World Evangelism, according to a news source working with religious freedom issues in China.
The pastors, from Hohhot, Inner Mongolia, are being criminally detained by the Hohhot Public Security Bureau's Domestic Security Department and the Criminal Police Brigade on "suspicion of fraud" for their involvement in the October 2010 Lausanne Congress
According to ChinaAid's sources the pastors have been criminally detained as the Chinese government starts "settling the score" in the wake of the snub last fall against China's official church.
Criminal detention is the first step of the legal process that leads to a trial, conviction and sentencing to a jail term.
According to ChinaAid, Chinese authorities in April began to "settle the score with the pastors who had actively participated in Lausanne last year."
Pastor Liu Jingtao, the Lausanne organizer for Inner Mongolia, was among first to be taken into custody.
The 10 pastors from Inner Mongolia were all barred at the airport from leaving the country by the Domestic Security Department of the Public Security Ministry, who forcibly restricted their freedom.
The meeting sites of these pastors' churches have all been closed down and sealed by the police.
Church leaders in another Inner Mongolian city, Ordos, have also been criminally detained over their involvement in the Lausanne Congress, according to ChinaAid. Details concerning the arrests are still being investigated.
Hohhot police told sources that the detained people are not "recognized by the government as clergy and they engaged in fund-raising activities."
The Chinese house pastors were invited to attend the Lausanne Congress in Cape Town, South Africa, as "official delegates."
The religious leaders of state-run churches of the Three-Self Patriotic Movement reportedly only had an "observer" status.
Three-Self churches are prohibited from proselytizing outside their own churches. Since they are restricted in proselytizing, the Three-Self leaders could not sign the Lausanne covenant that requires official delegates to engage in worldwide evangelism.
ChinaAid said that Chinese authorities were angered that its official church was not the sole representative of Christianity in mainland China.
Beijing spared no effort in stopping the 200 invited Chinese house church pastors and leaders from going to Capetown, Africa.
"Due to the large number of people who have been detained by the Chinese authorities, names are still being confirmed," said ChinaAid.
The Lausanne Congress was held Oct. 17-24, 2010. More than 4,000 leaders from 198 countries were together in Cape Town, South Africa, to confront the critical issues of our time as they relate to the future of the Church and world evangelization.
Knowledgeable organizations estimate there are at least 60 million Christians in China.
Source: ChinaAid Association