As a part of a larger crackdown on sundry "cults," the Chinese government is persecuting underground house churches. The repression includes dangling prisoners from the ceiling in cruel positions, reports British advocacy organization Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW).

In some cases, weights are attached to those hanging to increase the pain. Authorities have beaten other Chinese believers with batons and poles, Chinese Christians told CSW. One said detainees (not necessarily Christian) were tied onto crosses and leaned at an angle against the wall for as long as a day, causing horrific strain on internal organs.

Chinese authorities lump unregistered evangelical and Catholic churches with various superstitious cults targeted in the crackdown, CSW says. Government officials apply no objective or consistent criteria to determine what constitutes a cult, and local corruption, poor education, and refusal to allow independent registration perpetuate abuses, according to CSW.

Authorities use many forms of torture, from beatings and crucifixion to prolonged exposure to the elements. Four guards who heard a man calling out the name of Jesus repeatedly threw him to the ground until he died.

Arrests have increased, and hundreds of Christians suffer daily in labor-education camps in China, according to CSW. Some arrested and tortured believers are released only after they pay heavy fines. In some areas, fines are so crippling that church leaders, unable to support their families, are giving up their positions. Those suffering for their faith are often left destitute.

The government has stepped up a year-long campaign to demolish temples and churches as part of its effort to quell unofficial religions it fears will become as defiant as ...

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