Members of underground church arrested in China
Police in southwestern China have arrested eight members of an underground Christian church on charges of spreading "feudalistic superstition," the local religious administration has said.
The eight - all members of a unregistered church in a village in Yunnan province's Funing County - could be sent to labour camps according to the Reuters news agency, after police caught them undertaking unauthorized missionary work.
"They spread superstitious words to villagers twice a week and asked poor villagers to donate," he said.
Police in the backwater region near the Vietnam border have carried out sweeps of other underground practitioners in a neighboring Guangxi province in a crackdown this year, New York-based Human Rights in China said in a statement.
Chinese law protects religious freedom but the Communist government forbids all worship outside state-backed "patriotic" religious organisations.
The church members had applied for permission to hold prayer services, the rights group said. Police appeared at four places where services were under way on June 6, apparently under the pretences of registering the group, before detaining 12 of their members, it said.
The local official said the four others could face lighter punishment than a labour camp.