In an effort to crush the unregistered house church movement, a ‘new wave of persecution’ is hitting believers as Chinese Communist Party (CCP) officials allege false claims of fraud against Christian pastors.
The CCP is continuing to label tithes and offerings as financial ‘fraud’ to justify harsh and excessive prison sentences against church leaders.
Our partner, ChinaAid, said that as part of a continuing strategy to criminalise gospel-focused house churches, the CCP often claims that: the collection of tithes and offerings is fraud, because house churches are ‘illegal clergy’; church pastors are defrauding Christians and are scammers; and pastors are giving themselves an excessive salary. Officials use these lies to fabricate fraud charges against church leaders.
It added: ‘Our team believes it’s vitally important the global community of policymakers, human rights leaders, activists, and citizens who stand for freedom across China understand this abusive, new wave of persecution.’
Among those who have been imprisoned under these false fraud allegations are Pastor Hao Zhiwei of Egangqiao Church, who received an eight-year sentence. ChinaAid said Pastor Hao’s case might be the first case in China where a house church pastor was accused of fraud for preaching the gospel. Her husband, also a pastor, died from liver cancer in 2018.
Last year Mu En and Wang Yinuo, two leaders of Hefei Youth Fellowship in Anhui province, were imprisoned and fined for ‘fraud’. Their fellowship was raided after they refused to register or join the state-sanctioned Three-Self Church. Mu En, aged 35, was sentenced to three and a half years in prison and a 60,000-yuan (£6,700) fine, while Wang Yinuo, aged 33, to three years and a fine of 50,000 yuan. Mu En is married and has two young children who live with their grandparents.
As China prepares to celebrate the new year (on Saturday), please remember your brothers and sisters in house churches in China who are enduring this unjust persecution.