Chinese Christian woman jailed for holding bible study

January 23, 2017 by  
Filed under newsletter-asia

China, January 23, 2017: A Christian woman has been jailed for three years for holding a bible study in China.

Ma Huichao was sentenced after her bible study group threatened to “disturb public order”.

China Aid said the woman was taken into custody alongside four other Christians after communist party officials claimed the group was meeting without government approval.

The small group was accused of “gathering a crowd to disturb public order” in the western Xinjiang region of the country.Huichao’s lawyer was not allowed to plead not guilty on his clients behalf, according to China Aid. The court sentenced Huichao to three years in prison on December 30.

It is believed Huichao will not appeal her sentence. China’s Communist Party has placed increasingly harsh restrictions on Christians in recent months.

There has been a crackdown on churches not sanctioned by the government with hundreds of Christians arrested for disturbing public order for offences such as holding bible study groups and displaying crucifixes outside their homes.

The revised Draft of Regulations on Religious Affairs placed further restrictions on Christians “organising citizens to attend religious training, conferences and activities abroad”; “preaching, organising religious activities, and establishing religious institutions or religious sites at schools” and “providing religious services through the internet”.

Crosses on church buildings have also been removed for violating building codes with reports of some Christians being beaten by the authorities for their actions.

Christian charities have reported scenes of violence, Christians being arrested, sent to labour camps and tortured.

The crackdown has forced Christians underground and has left a deal between the Vatican and China on the brink of collapse.

With Catholic churches across the world expected to follow the Vatican, Chinese Catholics have been told they must run their churches independently.

A row has broken out between the party and the Vatican over who should be able to appoint senior clergy.

Traditionally the Vatican appoint bishops, but in China all appointments must be state approved.

China says bishops must be named by the local Chinese Catholic community and refuses to accept the authority of the pope, whom it sees as the head of a foreign state that has no right to meddle in Beijing’s affairs.

Prospects for a deal were set back last month after Lei Shiyin, a government-backed bishop excommunicated by the Vatican, participated in the ordination of new bishops.

Senior Communist party leader Yu Zhengsheng told the government-approved Chinese Patriotic Catholic Association and Bishops Conference of Catholic Church of China Catholics should “run their church independently and better integrate it into society”.

He said: “The church should adhere to the principles of self-administration, run religious affairs independently and guide believers to adhere to the Sinicisation path of the religion.”

The Sinicisation of religion is likely a reference to bringing religion under Chinese influence.

There are as many as 10 million Chinese Catholics in what is an officially atheist country.


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