Chinese pastor and his wife who had openly opposed China’s cross removal campaign were sentenced to 14 and 12 years in jail.
Bao Guohua and his wife Xing Wenxiang were sentenced on charges of illegal activities, including corruption and disturbing social order by court in eastern Zhejiang province on Friday, state media said.
A court in eastern Zhejiang province on Friday sentenced pastor Bao Guohua to 14 years in prison and his wife, Xing Wenxiang, to 12 years after concluding that they had illegally organised churchgoers to petition the government and disturb social order, according to the state-run Zhejiang Daily newspaper.
The couple also was accused of “tricking” members of its congregation into donating $336,000 that was spent on cars and other personal purchases while pretending to lead an ascetic lifestyle, the newspaper said. The court sentenced 10 other church members to prison, the report said, without giving details.
For the past two years, China’s Zhejiang province has seen a lot of Christian imprisonment on disputes with authorities who have removed crosses from their churches saying that they violated the building codes or demolished the churches altogether.
The clash over the Zhejiang Christians’ religious rights has been complicated by the fact that they have received help from overseas supporters at a time when the Chinese government is particularly sensitive to what it considers foreign meddling in domestic issues. In the past year, China’s government has relentlessly pursued and jailed human rights lawyers that have received training and funding from foreign sources.
Another pastor Gu “Joseph” Yuese of Hangzhou’s Chongyi was also imprisoned at an unknown location for openly opposing the government’s campaign.
China began forcefully demolishing crosses from churches since 2014. Crucifixes being a prominent Christian sign, serve as an integral part of every church building across the world but due to China’s policies, religious freedom is in danger and Christians feel unsafe, insecure and deprived of their rights.