Chinese Pastor Jailed for Printing Bibles
Giving away Bibles for free is a crime in China, according to a verdict recently handed down in the case of a House Church leader.
Pastor Wang Zaiqing, a prominent Chinese House Church leader in Anhui Province was sentenced on Oct. 9 to two years in prison on the charge of "Illegal Business Practices," and fined 100,000 Yuan ($12,500.00). In addition, all the books in his home, and the funds used to print them, were confiscated.
Pastor Wang was crippled at the age of 5. He became a Christian in 1993, and later became very well-known House Church for preaching and starting House Churches in several provinces around Anhui Province.
He had been printing and distributing Bibles and other Christian literature to fellow believers free of charge, which resulted in his detention by the local Public Security Bureau on April 28, 2006. Wang was formally arrested June 26, 2006.
On Sept. 4, 2006 the People's Prosecutor filed in the local People's Court the case to prosecute Wang Zaiqing for committing the crime of "Illegal Business Practices."
The indictment of the People's Prosecutor states Wang Zaiqing violated Chinese Criminal Law Article 225, Items 1 and 4, by printing Bibles and other Christian literature.
Wang's defense lawyer, Mr. Sun Hongye, stated: First, from a legal standpoint, the crime of Illegal Business Practices requires the accused to make a profit, and Wang Zaiqing's books were distributed at no cost. So Wang Zaiqing is innocent of this crime.
Second, the evaluation made by the local News & Publication Bureau that the books printed by Wang Zaiqing were illegal publications lacks any legal basis. The books printed by Wang do not conform to the definition of publication, and thus should not be treated as illegal publications. In its verdict the court maintained that:
The books printed by Wang Zaiqing are "Internal Material," which cannot be published without the permission of the News & Publication Bureau of the Provincial authorities. Wang Zaiqing never submitted any application to the relative government office before he printed the books, which is a procedural violation.
The local People's Court sentences Wang Zaiqing
for the crime of illegal business practices to two years in prison,
fines him 100,000 Yuan ($12,500.00), and confiscates all books and funds
Dr. Li Baiguang, a prominent legal scholar on constitutional law has volunteered to be Pastor Wang's lawyer. Dr Li is a member of the Association of Human-Rights Attorneys. He met with President Bush May 11, at the White House along with two other house church members.
The president of the China Aid Association, Rev. Bob Fu said, "This is the third time in recent history that the Chinese government has used a criminal business-related charge against a house church pastor. Beijing Pastor Cai Zhuohua was sentenced to three years in prison in 2005 for printing Christian literature. This is typical of the Chinese government to persecute religious leaders by criminalizing their religious activities."
"It's totally unacceptable for the Chinese authorities to arrest this pious, crippled pastor simply for printing Bibles. We appeal to the Archbishop of Canterbury, who will hold a press conference in Beijing on Monday, Oct. 23 at the conclusion of his visit to China, to voice his concerns about religious freedom in China."
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