China Aid, a Christian human rights organization based in the U.S., believes that Pastor Gu Yuese of Hangzhou's Chongyi Church, the largest government sanctioned church in China, has no chance to escape sentencing by the Communist Party for standing up against the crackdown on churches.
"I think the likely scenario to happen is that he will be indicted, and depending on his confession, and how cooperative he is, the length of sentence can be negotiated," Bob Fu, founder and president of China Aid, told The Christian Post in a phone interview on Thursday.
"All factors combined, I do not see any way that the Communist Party will let Pator Gu leave the prison without a criminal sentence," Fu added.
Gu was taken into custody and placed under "residential surveillance at a designated location" on Jan. 28, but was only formally charged on Feb. 6 on charges of embezzling funds, Fu told CP.
While Chinese authorities, led by the Communist Party, have claimed that Gu is being investigated for corruption, China Aid and other persecution watchdog groups have pointed out that Gu is being punished more so because of his opposition to the crackdown on churches in China, which includes the forced cross removal from hundreds of churches in several provinces.
Although authorities have arrested several Christian pastors of underground churches and Christian activists for protesting against the forced cross removals, Gu is the highest ranking government-sanctioned church official to be arrested since the cultural revolution in the 1960s.
Fu said that the pastor's arrest is "politically charged," and pointed out the irony that Gu had previously been considered almost as a "poster boy" by the government for religious freedom.
The China Aid president noted that Gu has built a large international following, especially in Hong Kong and other oversees church communities, with petitions supporting him gathering over 1,500 signatures by influential church leaders.
read more: http://www.christianpost.com/news/china-arrest-megachurch-pastor-gu-yuese-government-sanctioned-church-persecution-157537/
SI Moderator - Greg Gordon