A Chinese court sentenced 46-year-old Pastor Wang Yi, who led the Protestant Early Rain Covenant Church in the Chinese city of Chengdu. He was sentenced to prison for nine years on Monday for incitement of subversion of state power and for illegal business operations. The Chinese government often uses those charges against religious leaders and against those who disagree politically with the government.
Pastor Yi had written an essay in 2018 titled “Meditations on the Religious War,” in which he wrote that the ideology of the Chinese Communist Party is “morally incompatible with the Christian faith and with all those who uphold freedom of the mind and thought.”
Pastor Yi’s church, had been one of the most politically active churches in China for years, holding a service every year commemorating the 1989 massacre at Tiananmen Square, even though the government severely restricts the observance of this massacre. The church was closed down in 2018, however, in the midst of a government crackdown on religious houses of worship.
The church released an undated statement from their pastor on Monday morning on their Facebook page and is believed to be written prior to his trial. Part of it, he states: “Regardless of what crime the government charges me with, whatever filth they fling at me, as long as this charge is related to my faith, my writings, my comments, and my teachings, it is merely a lie and temptation of demons. I categorically deny it. I will serve my sentence, but I will not serve the law. I will be executed, but I will not plead guilty.”