Chinese authorities have fined and sentenced a pastor to jail time for holding a religious service that wasn’t approved by the government.
According to ChinaAid, Li Chunzhe was arrested earlier in November in China’s Yunnan province after he held a service for local seniors in a rented office space.
A local resident told ChinaAid that “personnel from the district religion bureau said that it is illegal for believers to engage in religious events at a venue the government has not approved. Numerous police officers transported all the attendees to the police station for interrogation. That evening, officials released all those they had arrested but one—Li Chunzhe, who remains detained.”
Li was fined and spent five days in jail because he “disturbed the order of public places.”
Authorities have routinely pressured Li and his group to join the state-run Three Self Church, the only protestant church legally allowed to operate in China.
As the Three Self Church is an organ of the state, pastors are required to censor themselves and make their teachings fit state ideology.
The desire to “sinicize” Christianity and ensure every church complies with Communist doctrine has led to renewed persecutions of independent churches this year.
Earlier this month, the Christian Post reported that a pastor and six congregants were arrested at the Early Rain Covenant Church in Shanxi.
The Early Rain church-movement has been heavily persecuted over recent months, with authorities trying to force members to renounce their faith in interrogations.