Chinese Pastor Who Refused to Remove Cross Gets 14 Years in Jail
The Chinese government has been cracking down on Christianity.
A court in Zhejiang province of China has sentenced Bao Guohua, a Protestant pastor, and Xing Wenxiang, his wife to 14 years and 12 years in prison respectively. They were convicted of financial crimes and corruption along with gathering people with the intention to disturb the social order. This particular sentence was one of harshest penalties imposed on clergy members in China. The court has also sentenced another 10 members of Bao's church or another Christian group operating in Jinhua city, but did not disclose details.
Chinese Pastor Who Refused to Remove Cross Gets 14 Years in Jail[/tweetthis]
This step is a part of the continuing campaign taken by Chinese authorities to remove crosses from churches located in Zhejiang Province. Chinese government officials confiscated the Zhuangyuan Church cross in the early morning of February 25. The event follows just two weeks after the religious affairs director of the Yongqiang parish gave a call for “religious stability.”
A minimum of 18 crosses were removed from Protestant churches in Zhejiang in 2016. However, this is the first time Catholics have been targeted. The number of Catholics in the area is only 210,000 individuals. The continuing campaign by the Chinese government has netted approximately 1,700 crosses since the raids began in 2013.
A local newspaper, Zhejiang Daily, has reported that the court has also confiscated about 600,000 renminbi ($92,000) from Guohua. He was also slapped with a fine equivalent to $15,300. The newspaper also reported that the same amount was confiscated from his wife as well who was given a $14,000 fine.
China Detains Pastor of Its Largest Official Church https://t.co/lsXi6JRuij // Pastor had objected to gov't policy of removing crosses.
— Lawrence W. Wilson (@LawrenceWilson) February 1, 2016
Zhenjiang, during the last few years, has been industriously executing a campaign to restrict influence of Christian groups and churches. The religion has a noticeable presence in the province. Incidentally, the current Chinese president, President Xi Jinping, once served as Chief of the local Communist Party in this region.
The local administration is particularly concerned about the proliferation of house churches. They are not overseen and not approved by the official framework. When it comes to Guohua, he had official approval lead a congregation and also oversaw a church sanctioned by the government. A house church preacher who is now living in the U.S. speculates Guohua was targeted because he refused to take down his church’s cross.