By Yves Dumas,
A Nanle County, Hunan province Christian Church Pastor Zhang Shaojie was given a 12-year sentence for “gathering crowds to disturb public order” and an alleged fraud; however, many view his imprisonment as part of the Chinese Communist party intensified attempt to clamp down on the region’s fast growing Christian church.
The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) denies any Christian persecution taking place in China today. However; according to website Billionbibles.org, Christian persecution persists in China except it has shifted from violent oppression to an insidious persecution. In the past, when the Chinese communist regime discovered an “underground” Church, the Church members were beaten, their leaders tortured, sent to labor camps, killed or mysteriously disappear. Nowadays, the Chinese communist regime pressures underground church members to join the government-controlled Three-Self church network, where pastors are few and unbiblical teachings are habitual. If church members resist the pressure to join the Three-Self church network they are threatened with the loss of their jobs or school enrollment. They are also placed in house arrests and fined.
Pastor Zhang Shaojie was detained in November 2013 along with 20 other church members. He was tricked by Nanle County Public Security Chief into meeting at the church, when about a dozen police officers then entered the building and detained him, reported ChinaAid, a Washington D. C. based church advocacy organization.
Church members said that the local officials “tied up” Zhang, but did not show any arrest documents.
As reported by Christiantoday.com, although the right to freedom of religious belief is guaranteed under Article 36 of the Communist regime’s Constitution, that protection is limited to those who worship within state-sanctioned religious bodies, such as the Three-Self church network. Those who choose to practice their faith independently and gather for worship are at risk of being accused of participating in illegal activities, which carries heavy punishment.
However, the first churches to be targeted by the CCP recently, belonged to the state-sanctioned Three-Self Patriotic Movement. Pastor Zhang had been the chairman and president of the Nanle County branch of the Three-Self Patriotic Movement, a state-sanctioned Protestant organization.
“It’s hard not to see it as an attempt to bring the registered Church into line with party policies. There’s a feeling that they were perhaps becoming too independent, and so are being brought in,” a China expert said, according to Christiantoday.com.