China Independent church pastors under pressure
14 May 2018
was also placed under criminal detention in December 2015 on the charge of illegally possessing state secrets. Hua was formally arrested on 22 January 2016, and was sentenced to two and a half years in prison a year later.
In another province, authorities detained or removed over 200 members of the Early Rain Church in Chengdu, Sichuan Province, to prevent them from holding a prayer vigil for victims of the Wenchuan earthquake of 2008. Pastor Wang Yi was detained by police and accused of “picking quarrels and causing trouble” on 11 May and released the following night. Police also took away church members who arrived for the vigil on the morning of 12 May.
Pastor Wang has been an outspoken critic of the government’s policy towards unregistered or independent churches (sometimes known as “house churches”) like Early Rain and Living Stone Church. On 30 January 2018, Chinese Church Voices published Pastor Wang’s analysis of the revised regulations on religious affairs shortly before they came into effect. In the post Pastor Wang described the regulations as “evil”, “illegal” and “foolish”, expressed his intention to “peacefully reject the legitimacy and execution of these regulations”, and called on other Christians to prepare themselves.
The sentence handed down to Pastor Su
Tianfu is a gross injustice. Pastor Su and his congregation have engaged in
peaceful religious activities, served their community, and supported needy members
of the congregation. The authorities should welcome the church’s contribution
to society; instead, their leaders and members have been harassed, monitored,
threatened, fined and imprisoned. CSW also condemns the detention and removal
of members of Early Rain Church to prevent them from holding a peaceful vigil
for the victims of the Sichuan earthquake. We call on the authorities to
release Pastor Su and Pastor Yang immediately and without condition, and to
cease all harassment of independent churches.