Dozens Detained in Raid on China Church

BEIJING (AP) -- A U.S.-based advocacy group says dozens of Christians have been detained in a raid on a prominent Chinese church that operates outside the government's official protestant organization.

ChinaAid says at least 80 churchgoers and seminary students from the Early Rain Covenant Church were taken away in the southwestern city of Chengdu beginning Sunday night.

It says they include the church's pastor, Wang Yi, and his wife, Jiang Rong. China has cracked down heavily on independent church groups this year as part of an assault on all religions.

China requires that Protestants worship only in churches recognized and regulated by the Three-Self Patriotic Movement. Even within that framework, the officially atheist ruling Communist Party has been seeking to rein in religious expression, including removing crosses from official and unofficial churches.

(KA)