Lawyers protest China official church detentions

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Associated Press

Posted on December 12, 2013 at 4:02 AM

Updated Thursday, Dec 12 at 4:33 AM

BEIJING (AP) — Fifteen Chinese lawyers are protesting being blocked from meeting an officially-backed Christian pastor and several of his aides detained in a crackdown that highlights the ruling Communist Party's often prickly attitude toward religious groups.

Lawyers Xia Jun and Liu Weiguo said Thursday they and other attorneys who traveled to Nanle county in Henan to help the church leaders have been repeatedly prevented from seeing the detainees.

The crackdown is unusual for a state-approved church. China's communist government allows worship only in such churches, while unregistered congregations tend to be harassed.

The lawyers say Zhang and other church leaders are being punished for resisting local authorities' attempts to seize the church's land.

Officials in Nanle either could not be reached or said they were unaware of it.

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