Four Chinese Christians have been sentenced to prison for selling audio Bibles, according to reports.
A court in Guangdong Province convicted the four Christians of ‘committing illegal business operations’.
The group worked for the ‘Tree of Life Technology’ company, which provides audio Bibles to rural areas.
Fu Xuanjuan, the leader of the company, was said to be sentenced to six years with a fine of 200,000 yuan.
Deng Tianyong, who was responsible for auditing and managing audio Bible content, was given three years in prison with a penalty of 50,000 yuan.
Feng Qunhao, a technician, was sentenced to two-and-a-half years with a 30,000 yuan fine.
Han Li, a receptionist and finance employee, faces up to one year and three months in jail, and a fine of 10,000 yuan.
There are also reports of the police using the company’s records to investigate customers who may have bought an audio Bible.
Chinese American pastor Bob Fu has described the conviction of the four Christians as ‘heavy persecution’.
China’s clamp down against Christians has grown increasingly harsh. Just last month, ET reported that many religious believers were placed under house arrest in the run up to the 100-year anniversary of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP).
And the China Aid Association also reported that the CCP had intensified its censorship on religious books, videos, and audio materials.
Also, reports warned Christians that they could find themselves in ‘re-education camps’, and the Chinese government was starting a database of Christian leaders.
Open Doors UK says, ‘The policy of “sinicising” the church (to make Chinese) is implemented across the country as the Communist Party relies strongly on Chinese cultural identity to stay in power, and limits whatever could threaten its control on society.
‘New restrictions on the internet, social media and non-governmental organisations – along with a revision of religious regulation in 2018 which was enhanced again last year – are strictly applied and seriously limit freedom.
‘Churches are being monitored and closed, be they independent or affiliated to the state. On a more local level, converts from Islam or Buddhism whose new faith is discovered by family and the community are likely to face threats and physical harm to lure them back.’
Nevertheless, the church in China continues to grow. A report last year in The Economist stated, ‘Protestant Christianity is probably the fastest-growing faith, with at least 38m adherents today (about 3% of the population), up from 22m a decade ago, according to the government’s count.
‘The true number is probably much higher: perhaps as many as 22m more Chinese Protestants worship in unregistered “underground” churches, according to a new study by researchers at the University of Notre Dame.’