By Joseph DeCaro, BosNewsLife International Correspondent
BEIJING, CHINA (BosNewsLife)-- Officials in Guangzhou have banned "house churches" from holding services while the Chinese city hosts the 16th Asian Games, according to Christians with close knowledge about the situation.
Local congregations were warned not to meet during the November 12-27 sports event, said lawyer and house church member Tang Jingling.
"(Officials) have been seeking out the pastors of these groups and ordering them to stop holding meetings," added Tang in comments obtained by BosNewsLife Monday, November 22.
Authorities reportedly cited security concerns for their actions.
Yet, house churches don't really pose a security threat, argued Wang Dao, pastor of the Guangzhou Liangren church. "There isn't an issue with security," he said. "I think it's just an excuse, so they can undertake a total crackdown and cleanup of house churches."
Officially atheist, China's government investigates any faith-based activity. Ruling Communist Party officials oversee Catholics, Buddhists, Taoists, Muslims, and Protestants.
Most of the estimated 130 million Christians in China prefer to worship outside government control in house churches, named this way as they are often organized in homes of individual believers, said church and advocacy groups.