The pastor of Early Rain Covenant Church in China is facing new charges from the communist government seven months after he was arrested alongside 100 members of his congregation.
In addition to “inciting subversion” and attempting to turn people against the Chinese government, Wang has now been charged with “illegal business activity,” Radio Free Asia reports.
A local Christian told the outlet that the so-called illegal business charge is likely due to the fact that authorities have little evidence to support the subversion charge, which can result in up to 10 years’ imprisonment.
“They want to charge Pastor Wang Yi with inciting subversion, but even they know that this isn’t a very persuasive accusation,” the person said. “So they are hoping for a breakthrough using economic [crimes].”
The pastor of the 5,000-member church, his wife, Jiang Rong, and about 100 other Early Rain members were arrested on Dec. 9, 2018. While Jiang Rong was released after six months, her husband and four other members of the church remain in secret detention.
Some church members who were detained and later released described how police tortured them in an attempt to turn them against Wang. Some claimed police tied them to a chair and deprived them of food for 24 hours.
Additionally, authorities ransacked and sealed Early Rain Covenant Church’s properties, including offices, a kindergarten, a seminary, and a Bible college, and searched the homes of many of its members. Police also forced church members to sign a pledge not to attend the church again, and around half of the church’s original membership remain under close surveillance by police.
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SOURCE: Christian Post, Leah MarieAnn Klett