China House Church Leader Sentenced to Labour Camp

The Christian Post  Singapore Edition
Government advisor: ‘abnormal growth’ of Christianity threatens national security.
Wednesday, Aug. 3, 2011 Posted: 8:13:20PM HKT
Authorities this week sentenced Shi Enhao, deputy leader of the Chinese House Church Alliance (CHCA), to two years of “re-education through labor” – a sentence that requires no trial or conviction, according to the China Aid Association (CAA).
Shi was officially charged with holding “illegal meetings and illegal organising of venues for religious meetings,” due to his leadership of a house church movement of several thousand people meeting in several venues around Beijing, CAA reported.
Zhang Mingxuan, president of the CHCA, has also faced multiple arrests and detentions since founding the alliance in 2005.
Police have since ordered Shi’s church members to stop meeting for worship and confiscated musical instruments, choir robes and some 140,000 RMB in church donations. They also raided Shi’s house on June 1 and have threatened and intimidated Shi’s wife, Zhu Guangyun, and their four adult children, according to the CAA.
Police initially detained Shi and other church leaders following a raid on May 31 in Suqian city, Jiangsu Province. Most other leaders were released within 24 hours but police sentenced Shi and fellow leader Chang Meiling to 12 days of administrative detention before formally placing Shi in criminal detention on June 21, according to CAA.

Shi’s sentencing to labour camp comes as China’s government is embroiled in conflict with Beijing Shouwang church, which has attempted to meet outdoors since April 10 after the government blocked the congregation’s ability to secure a permanent worship venue.
Last Sunday (July 24) police arrested a further 35 Christians who attempted to meet at Shouwang’s outdoor worship venue; 21 were released by midnight. Police held the rest for at least 24 hours, pressuring some of them to sign statements agreeing not to travel to the worship venue again, according to a statement issued Wednesday (July 27) on Shouwang’s Facebook page.
Police released the final two detainees at around 4 p.m. on Tuesday (July 26), the statement said, but several key Shouwang leaders remain under constant house arrest.
Critics of the controversial stand taken by Shouwang church say that large house churches should split into smaller groups to avoid clashes with authorities, but as CAA has pointed out, Shi was charged and sentenced despite dividing his church in this way.
Joint House Church Petition
On May 8, Autumn Rain church in Chengdu, Sichuan Province informed its members that “In response to the Beijing Shouwang church incident … Elder Wang Yi will join with the pastors and preachers of dozens of house churches in signing a citizens’ petition to the National People’s Congress seeking a resolution of the church-state conflict and a guarantee of religious freedom,” Christian Newswire reported.
Some 17 house church pastors eventually signed the petition, the first of its kind in 60 years of Communist rule, indicating the increasing determination of China’s “third church” – congregations that function openly but decline to register with the government – to secure greater freedom of worship. Protestant churches are required to register through government-appointed bodies such as the Three-Self Patriotic Movement (TSPM), but Chinese Christians accuse the TSPM of censoring sermon material, strictly controlling the appointment of ministers and dictating questionable theology.

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

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