Imprisoning Another Christian Pastor Because of His Faith
JORDAN SEKULOW, ACLJ
Finally, the mainstream media has had no choice but to take notice of the persecution happening in China.
A recent Time magazine article reported the arrest and closed-door conviction of Christian Pastor Wang Yi, the founder of Early Rain Covenant Church, who has been sentenced to 9 years in prison and the forfeiture of a large percentage of his assets for allegedly “inciting subversion of state power” and “illegal business activities.”
We’ve been telling you for years how the Chinese government has been cracking down on Christians. We’ve even gone directly to the United Nations demanding China stop the abuse of Christians.
As even Time stated, this latest conviction of Pastor Yi demonstrates the current hostility towards Christians in China.
The lengthy sentence, and secret proceedings, show that the Chinese Communist Party feels threatened by the rapid spread of Christianity in the country—especially from churches that operate outside of the government’s rules, experts say.
A little over a year ago we told you how Chinese police raided the homes of the church’s members, including Pastor Yi, and violated their religious freedoms:
The police raided the homes of individual congregants over a 12-hour period; breaking into their homes, threatening the families, and using powerful searchlights to intimidate the Christian believers.
By 5am on Monday morning, more than 80 leaders of the church were arrested and taken from their homes. The senior pastor, Yi Wang, along with his wife and the elders and deacons were taken away. Many of the congregants are under some form of house arrest, and some were even forced to allow the police to stay in the church members’ homes for an extended period. In addition to the raids and arrests, the police forced the church members to sign a statement promising that they will not attend the church anymore.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo took to Twitter, demanding Pastor Yi’s release and for China to uphold the religious freedoms of ALL of its citizens, including Christians.
I am alarmed that Pastor Wang Yi, leader of Chengdu’s Early Rain house church, was tried in secret and sentenced to nine years in prison on trumped-up charges. Beijing must release him and end its intensifying repression of Christians and members of all other religious groups.
But this isn’t new to us or ACLJ members. We’ve reported multiple incidents of persecution against Christians in China, from arresting pastors, to forcing churches to shutdown permanently, and even banning the online sale of Bibles which would allow greater access for Chinese citizens seeking answers and spiritual truth.
China is a U.N. member state. It signed the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) which states:
Everyone shall have the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion. This right shall include freedom to have or to adopt a religion or belief of his choice, and freedom, either individually or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in worship, observance, practice and teaching.
Prior to that, 70 years ago, China voted in favor of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) which also declares:
Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief, and freedom, either alone or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship and observance.
Yet by these and many other acts of unjust religious persecution of Christian pastors, churches, and even everyday citizens simply seeking something to believe in, China is blatantly disregarding the moral obligations to uphold human rights, including religious liberty.
It must be held accountable for these actions. China needs to free Pastor Yi as well as all other Christians now being detained or incarcerated because of their faith. Chinese Christians should feel the same protections to worship and pray as any other group.
Used with the permission of the American Center for Law and Justice.
Jordan Sekulow is an attorney and host of Jay Sekulow Live! and Sekulow, the American Center for Law and Justice’s (ACLJ) weekly television broadcast. Mr. Sekulow has served as a liaison between the ACLJ and its international affiliates. In 2014, he was appointed a Visiting Fellow of Oxford University at Harris Manchester College and served as a member of the Summer Research Institute at Oxford from 2014-2016. Sekulow is a graduate of Regent University School of Law, where he served as co-founder and Editor-in-Chief of the Regent Journal of Law and Public Policy.