A U.S.-based Christian group says Chinese authorities have released the pastor of the country's largest Protestant church after he was detained for more than two months following protests against the government's removal of crosses from churches.

China Aid said Joseph Gu Yuese has been confined to his home since his March 31 release and barred from meeting or communicating with others without permission.

Gu was formally arrested on Feb. 6 on embezzlement charges that supporters said were invented to punish him for his public opposition to a campaign by Zhejiang province officials to forcibly remove hundreds of rooftop crosses from churches.

Gu was also banned from the pulpit of his Chongyi Church and removed as head of the provincial state-sanctioned Protestant church association. Calls to the church rang unanswered Friday.