Top Chinese Church Leader Sent to Labor Camp

By Helena Zhu, Epoch Times
July 26, 2011 6:31 pm Last Updated: July 28, 2011 5:38 am

A top leader in China’s underground Protestant church movement has been sentenced to two years in what the communist regime calls "re-education through labor" as authorities continue to crack down on unapproved churches, a U.S.-based monitoring group said on Tuesday.

China Aid Association said that Pastor Shi Enhao, the 55-year-old deputy chairman of the Chinese House Church Alliance had been detained in the eastern province of Jiangsu since June 21. Shi was condemned over the weekend for "illegal organizing of venues for religious meetings," forcing him to leave his wife and 86-year-old mother, who needs round-the-clock care.

His labor camp sentence, like those of others, was handed out without trial on the recommendation of police and could be extended beyond the usual two-year term.

Shi’s sentence is the latest incident in a series of aggressive attempts by the Chinese regime to assert control over Christianity in China.

With underground house churches gradually replacing the government-run churches throughout the country, China’s newly appointed secretary of religious affairs has resolved to "break up and crush all house churches and bring them under the mantle of government control," said a house church member in May.

In mainland China, Christian faithfuls are only "legal" if they choose to worship at the state-sanctioned Three-Self Patriotic Movement Church, which aims to "unite Protestants across the country under the leadership of the Chinese Communist Party and the government to contribute to the nation’s socialism," as stated in its government charter.