Christian Activist Escapes Police Detention (Updated)

A Christian activist reported missing after he was confronted by security officials while en route to a church service attended by President Bush has escaped police detention, his brother said Monday.

Hua Huilin said his brother Hua Huiqi hoped to be able to tell President Bush the people praying with him were not real Christians. Hua Huiqi is an underground pastor who has been arrested several times because of his religious activities.

Bush has been criticized for attending a state-sanctioned church instead of the private so-called "house" churches even as he has put pressure on China for greater religious freedom.

"It just goes to show that God is universal. No state, man or woman should fear the influence of loving religion," Bush said Sunday after attending the service.

The brothers were cycling to the Kuan Jie Protestant Church at around dawn Sunday when he they were stopped by men in black cars. They were put in two separate cars and their bikes, mobile phones and Bibles were take away.

Hua Huilin said he was released around 2:00 p.m. and the bikes and phones were returned to him but not the Bibles. Later that night, he got a call from the police asking if his brother Hua Huiqi was back home. The police said Hua Huiqi had escaped while they were sleeping, Hua Huilin said.

--Liu Songjie

Update:

Here's the full text of a letter that Hua Huiqi, who is in hiding, sent to an activist group:

Dear Human Rights in China,

I am Hua Huiqi. I turned 46 this year. In 1990, I accepted Jesus
Christ as my Lord and Savior and was baptized in 1992 at Kuanjie
Protestant Church.

In the almost 20 years of my journey as a believer, I have endured
countless threats, intimidation, beatings, and detentions by the
police. During the 2008 Olympics I have been continuously under
surveillance and threatened by the police. At 6 a.m. on August 10, I
was on my way to Kuanjie Protestant Church to worship when I was
intercepted by police working on religious affairs from Chongwen
District. State Security police officer Bai Ying led 7-8 plainclothes
officers who beat me and dragged me and my brother Hua Huilin into two
separate cars.

The police brought us to their office in the Hong Kong New World Group
building and interrogated us. They asked me why I was going to Kuanjie
Protestant Church to worship and threatened me, saying, "You are not
allowed to go to Kuanjie Protestant Church because President Bush is
going there today. If you [try to] go again, we will break your legs.
We brought you here to wait for orders from our superiors. We shall
see how they want to deal with you."

They confiscated my Bible and thereupon began their watch over me. I
prayed. After about 4 or 5 hours, when I saw that the people who were
watching me had all fallen asleep, I fled. But I'm afraid to go home.

I ask that you closely monitor our freedom of belief and our personal safety.

Thank you.

Hua Huiqi
August 11, 2008


August 11, 2008; 5:24 AM ET  | Category:  Postmark Beijing
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Comments

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He says tell Bush "the people praying with him were not real Christians". Gee, isn't this part of the problem? There are at least 4000 different kinds of Christians in the US, and many of them think that all the others are not "real Christians". This seems kind of eerie to me. What makes the underground churches more "real Christians" than the churches that are legal? Don't they all pray to the same God?

And if any one of them came to power would they "purge" the "fake Christians"? How would they punish them?

Personally as a non-believer, I find this kind of statement creepy.

Posted by: PatrickInBeijing | August 11, 2008 9:48 AM

I had a differnet take on the "fake Christians" claim...

Given the infiltration of the church by the state I assumed Hua Huiqi meant that the people attending the state sanctioned service were probably more concerned with pressing oversignt of the church and its attendees than worhsipping God.

Posted by: Cherisse | August 11, 2008 11:34 AM

The man is crazy and a psycho pure and simple, making up stuff that only the ignorant Westerners, with the help of anti-China media, would believe. Would the Chinese gov't be so stupid to fake this? I mean it is not like there are no religious people in china. There are millions of Christans, Muslims, buddhists in China who are not trying to get foreigners to overthrow the gov't. They worship without any problem. The Western publics will never hear about them.

Posted by: LZ | August 11, 2008 12:31 PM

Government has absolutely no business "regulating" religion; governments that try to do this inadvertently admit their weakness against the human spirit.

Posted by: Mark In Irvine | August 11, 2008 12:53 PM

PatrickInBeijing,

When I read that statement, I assumed it to mean that the Chinese government had put people in with President Bush to give the impression that they their religious discrimination was not as bad as it is. I don't think he meant it to be 'denominational'.

This could have been a security risk, to let anyone within reach of Bush, so they just used fillers with security clearances or it could have been staged by the government to deceive how the Chinese government actually persecutes those who practice religious freedom.

Either way, I think you misunderstood.

Posted by: Ed | August 13, 2008 1:00 PM

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