Christianity Daily: China: Government-Approved Pastor Who Resisted Cross Removal Jailed for 14 Years

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Feb 29, 2016 01:50 pm EST

■ A Chinese pastor who was involved in protesting against removing the cross atop his church has been sentenced 14 years in prison, on charges of corruption, swindling, and gathering people to disturb social order, according to media reports.

Bao Guohua was a government-approved pastor and had resisted the cross removal campaign in Zhejiang province, where about 1,200 crosses were removed during the past 2 years. His wife, Xing Wenxiang, was sentenced to 12 years for similar charges.

Zhejiang province has the highest concentration of churches in
the country. (Photo : Portrait of an LBX/Flickr/CC)
About 10 people for their church were also charged, but the Chinese media has not released details of their sentences.

The court confiscated 600,000 renminbi (about $92,000) each from Bao and his wife, and fined Bao with $15,000 and about $14,000 from his wife.

The media reported that their sentences were the most severe, which have not been imposed on any of the church leaders in China as yet.

The Chinese government has refused to relent in taking down crosses, and maintains that the crosses violate building codes. However, Christian activists say that authorities want to suppress Christianity in Zhejiang, which is also referred to as "China's Jerusalem."

Last year, the authorities reinforced a ban on admitting non-atheist members in the Communist Party in Zhejiang province.

As the cross removal campaign in Zhejiang started, many of the buildings were also deemed "illegal structures" and razed to the ground.

The government's crackdown on Christianity in China continues with the arrest and detention of several clergy members and lawyers defending churches protesting against the removal of crosses.

This week, Zhang Kai, a prominent Christian lawyer who took up cases of cross removal, was made to confess on a local television station that he took money from China Aid director Bob Fu to defend churches in his capacity as a lawyer, and was trying to "change China's political system." Zhang was arrested a day before his meeting with US ambassador-at-large David Saperstein in August last year.

Responding to the Zhang's "confession", China Aid director Bob Fu released a statement saying, "Although China Aid is mentioned in the shameful Chinese Communist Party's official propaganda as an 'overseas force supporting Zhang Kai's legal defense work,' we will never be intimidated nor cease to continue to promote religious freedom for all in China."

In January this year, Gu Yuese, pastor of Hangzhou city's Chongyi Church was arrested, who too had protested against removal of crosses in Zhejiang province. His wife, Zhou Lianmei, was informed by the city police that he was detained on suspicions of swindling.

China Aid Contacts
Rachel Ritchie, English Media Director
Cell: (432) 553-1080 | Office: 1+ (888) 889-7757 | Other: (432) 689-6985