China: Court jails Christian pastor for eight years

February 18, 2022

For previous coverage of the persecution of Christians in China, see here.

“Chinese court jails Christian pastor for eight years,” UCA News, February 18, 2022:

A district court in central China has sentenced a female Christian pastor to eight years in prison for refusing to join Three-Self Church, a state-controlled body regulating Protestant churches.

Echeng District Court in Ezhou in Hubei province sentenced Hao Zhiwei, 51, pastor of a house church in Ezhou, on charges of fraud on Feb. 11, China Aid reported on Feb. 15.

Pastor Hao had been in custody since July 2019 when authorities in Ezhou arrested and detained her for two-and-half years after she refused to join the Three-Self Church.

She was charged with fraud for preaching the Gospel and receiving donations from church members without approval from the state-run Committee of the Three-Self Patriotic Movement of the Protestant Churches and the Christian Council, said her lawyer Si Weijiang.

Si said the case against Hao was unprecedented as for the first time a pastor of a house church was implicated in a fraud case….

He noted that since China adopted new regulations on religious affairs in 2018, the communist government has adopted various means to crack down on house churches, such as imposing a Sinicization policy, removal of crosses, sealing up and demolishing church buildings, banning church offerings and arresting preachers on charges of fraud.

Besides charges of fraud, the authorities have exploited other trumped-up charges to implicate preachers and pastors such as “illegal business operations,” “inciting subversion of state power” and “picking quarrels and provoking trouble.”