Su Tianfu

Su Tianfu (Image courtesy China Aid)

A pastor of a Chinese house church whose fellow church leader was jailed and then ordered by the government to turn over church money has been told to submit evidence in his case against the authorities who issued the orders and then prepare for a hearing, according to the China Aid ministry.

WND reported earlier this month that China Aid, which supports Christians in the communist nation, said Pastor Li Guozhi, also is known as Yang Hua, was jailed for “divulging state secrets,” a common charge used against Christians in the communist nation.

He is with Huoshi Church, the largest in Guiyang, Guizhou, and now a second pastor there, Su Tianfu, is caught up in the case.

The government claimed the pastors had access to $1 million in “illegal income” and demanded the cash.

Paul Marshall, Lela Gilbert and Nina Shea have collaborated to create “Persecuted: The Global Assault on Christians,” which confirms that groups like Pew Research, Newsweek and The Economist also identify Christians as “the world’s most widely persecuted religious group.”

Now Su Tianfu, who sued local governmental officials over the confiscation order, has been told to submit evidence by Nov. 20 and appear in court the next day for a hearing.

He brought his claims against the local and regional “religious affairs bureaus” when the government refused to hear arguments over the decision to fine the two a total of $1,020,200, the report said.

Now Su Tianfu has received notice from the court informing him of a hearing on Tuesday, with evidence required by Nov. 20.

According to China Aid, last May, officials ruled what the church got as donations from its members constituted “illegal income.”

The government then ordered the income – all of it – to be given to them.

The pastors have argued the congregation gave the money to the church, and it didn’t belong to the pastors.

Reported China Aid: “Since its founding in 2009, Huoshi Church’s numbers swelled at a rapid rate, quickly making it the largest house church in Guizhou’s capital, Guiyang. Even though its leaders routinely reported the church’s activities to the government and took great care to comply with all Chinese laws regarding privately run churches, authorities eventually targeted it, subjecting it to multiple raids and its members to detention and arrest.”

The action against the government cites Article 18 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, 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.”

The international pact also provides that “no one shall be subject to coercion which would impair his freedom to have or to adopt a religion or belief of his choice.”

Further, Article 33 of the Chinese Constitution says the state “respects and preserves human rights,” and Article 36 of the constitution says citizens of the People’s Republic of China “enjoy freedom of religious belief.”

“No state organ, public organization or individual may compel citizens to believe in, or not believe in, any religion; nor may they discriminate against citizens who believe in, or do not believe in, any religion. The state protects normal religious activities,'” the Chinese Constitution says, according to China Aid’s translation.

The church, with about 500 participants, has met since 2009 and “has never been involved in ‘activities that disrupt the social order, cause harm to the physical health of citizens, or interfere with China’s education system,'” the lawsuit said.

The money was from offerings “made voluntarily and all used to cover Huoshi Church’s corporate expenses.”

The church expenses have included disaster relief, educational programs, support for seniors, funerals and rent, the church said.

Paul Marshall, Lela Gilbert and Nina Shea have collaborated to create “Persecuted: The Global Assault on Christians,” which confirms that groups like Pew Research, Newsweek and The Economist also identify Christians as “the world’s most widely persecuted religious group.”

 

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