Saudis arrest 40 Christians in raid on secret church

Riyadh, Saudi Arabia - Forty foreign Christians, children included, were arrested for proselytizing when police raided a clandestine church in suburban Riyadh. Convictions could result in harsh prison sentences, followed by deportation.

Lt. Col. Saad al-Rashud, who heads a wide-ranging security campaign in the capital, said the believers' meeting place, which displayed crosses, was run by a Pakistani who led prayers, heard confessions, distributed Communion and claimed to heal the sick.

Although the Prophet Muhammad tolerated Christian churches in his realm, modern Saudi Arabia has made it illegal to promote any religion other than Islam and outlaws churches.

Members of other religions generally are allowed to practice their beliefs within private homes but may not seek converts or hold organized religious gatherings.