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China: Elders of Sichuan Church Await Trial for ‘Fraud’

For background on Orthodox Christianity in China, see here.

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

“Elders of Sichuan’s Qiuyu Qingcaodi Church Await Trial for ‘Fraud,'” by Zhang Chunhua, Bitter Winter, December 26, 2023:

It was December 10, 2018. As reported then by “Bitter Winter,” Qiuyu Qingcaodi Church (literal translation: Early Rain Green Pasture Church) in Deyang city in Sichuan province, was raided. Officials from the Public Security Bureau and Religious Affairs Bureau claimed that the church had privately set up a meeting place in violation of the law. The officials ordered believers to leave the building, prohibited them from holding any religious activities there, and posted a notice of closure on the door.

On December 12, two days later, the church was raided again by the authorities. At the time, nine police officers stormed into the meeting venue and dispersed more than a dozen believers who were holding a gathering.

On the afternoon of December 13, under intense pressure from the police, the landlord of the meeting venue locked the door to the church.

After the church was closed, the congregation continued to hold Sunday worship in a park next to Deyang’s Jinghu Lake. Local officials monitored the gatherings and took photos and videos of participants. Elder Hao Ming was summoned for questioning.

The real reason of the raids was that Elder Hao Ming and Elder Wu Jiannan of Qiuyu Qingcaodi Church had publicly protested the persecution of the Early Rain Covenant Church in Chengdu and signed an appeal on its behalf.

Five years have passed from that early “Bitter Winter” article, and the situation for Elders Hao Ming and Wu Jiannan has not improved. Actually, it became worse. Since they did not agree to withdraw their signatures from the appeal supporting the Early Rain Covenant Church, the two elders were detained in November 2021 and formally arrested in December.

The official accusation was “fraud.” The Jingyang District Procuratorate brought the case to Sichuan Provincial High Court on December 2, 2022, accusing the two elders of fraud for the amount of 560,000 yuan. In fact, this was the total amount of donations received by the church over the years. On August 25, 2023, the Procuratorate reduced the amount of money allegedly obtained through fraud to 100,130 yuan. The authorities claim that the “fraud” is confirmed by the fact that part of the donations were given to Sister Cui Yanqin, the wife of Elder Wu Jiannan. But in fact she had decided to quit her job as a public-school teacher to work full time to support Elder Wu. Giving money to Sister Cui was explicitly approved by the congregation….

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