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A Christian bookstore owner in China faces up to seven years in prison and a $ 30,000 fine

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A Chinese Christian online bookstore owner has been sentenced to seven years in prison and fined nearly $30,000 for engaging in what the regime deems as “illegal business operations.”

Persecution watchdog International Christian Concern reports that in September 2019, Chen Yu, who operated his online bookstore in Zhejiang province’s Taizhou city, was detained for selling unapproved religious publications imported from Taiwan, the U.S., and other countries.

Last week, he was sentenced to seven years in prison and fined 200,000 RMB ($29,450), according to a document from the People’s Court of Linhai City, shared by Father Francis Liu from the Chinese Christian Fellowship of Righteousness.

Additionally, Chen will also have his iPhone confiscated, while the 12,864 Christian books from his bookstore will be destroyed by the Linhai City Public Security Bureau.

ICC reports that police also launched a nationwide investigation to track down the bookstore’s customers through sale records and will confiscate their purchased books.

Gina Goh, ICC’s Regional Manager for Southeast Asia, said Chen’s sentencing reveals China’s Communist Party is “increasingly frightened by all things religious.”

“From religious symbols, Chinese couplets, to Christian books, anything that features religious elements is no longer tolerated by the Chinese Communist Party,” she said.

Goh warned that the “disproportionate sentencing of Christians” such as Early Rain Covenant Church Pastor Wang Yi — who was sentenced to nine years in prison under the same charge as Chen Yu — “implies that the crackdown against Christianity will only intensify.”

“The U.S. government and international community should continue to stand up to the tyranny in Beijing,” she stressed.

As the Chinese Communist Party seeks to limit the influence of Christianity in China, authorities have increasingly cracked down on Christian booksellers and their customers.

Last year, the owner of Wheat Bookstore, Zhang Xiaomai, was detained on suspicion of “illegal business operations.” A government-issued document accused her of buying religious publications from overseas and illegally selling them.

Police subsequently launched a nationwide investigation to track down the bookstore’s customers through sales orders and confiscated their books.

A house church pastor from Shenzhen city in the southern province of Guangdong who was summoned for purchasing from Wheat Bookstore, told Bitter Winter, “People who buy Christian books are practicing believers, so the government looks into them to determine how dangerous they are to the stability of their regime.”

“The Communist Party has done too many shameful deeds and continues to suppress people. Our government has a guilty conscience,” the pastor added.

A house church preacher from Shandong also told Bitter Winter that the police investigated him after discovering that he had purchased religious materials on Taobao.com, a Chinese online shopping website.

“It seems to me that the government can access anything; I feel like I am running naked,” the preacher said.

In April 2018, the Chinese government banned online retailers from selling the Bible. Legally, the Bible can only be distributed by government-approved agencies that supervise the Christian churches in China.

The CCP has also amped up measures to destroy religious symbols. In the first half of 2020 alone, over 900 crosses were removed from state-run churches across China.

In several provinces across the country, authorities have ordered residents to replace pictures of Jesus with those of Chairman Mao and those of General Secretary Xi Jinping.

China is ranked as one of the worst countries in the world when it comes to the persecution of Christians, according to Open Doors USA’s World Watch List.

The communist regime’s crackdown on religious freedom has also led the U.S. State Department to label it as a “country of particular concern” for “continuing to engage in particularly severe violations of religious freedom.”

This week, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo stressed that “nowhere is religious freedom under assault more than in China,” warning that the CCP is trying to “snuff out the lamp of freedom, especially religious freedom, on a horrifying scale.”
Sources: Christian Post

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Christians in Nepal Continue to Face a Context of Growing Persecution

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Nepal– Persecution in Nepal continues to be an increasing concern for the growing Christian population of the predominantly Hindu country. The Global Press Journal recently published an article discussing the story of Pastor Hari Tamang, a current example of this persecution. Pastor Tamang has been falsely charged with trafficking children and attempted conversions after he had agreed to shelter children who would have otherwise been put on the street because their former shelter could not help them any longer. Although the trafficking charges were dropped, Tamang is still years later fighting the charges of attempted conversion of the children.

Nepalese law allows for the free exercise of one’s religion but forbids the conversion of others. This has produced a context of growing tensions in the society. The Nepalese Christian community says that they are holding fast to the principle that Christ calls His followers to share their faith, but choosing to follow Him is an individual choice, not something to be forced on anyone. Nevertheless, this community is consistently accused of forcefully converting.

Similar cases to that of Pastor Tamang have become more common throughout Nepal as the growth of Christianity as skyrocketed. Advocacy organizations estimate that Christians now number between 2 and 3 million throughout Nepal, comprising a larger portion of the Nepalese population than ever before. Nepal’s churches number between 10,000 and 12,000 across the country.

In neighboring India, similar anti-forced conversion laws have been implemented in several states across the country with similar penalties. India, however, has been leading the way in persecuting religious minorities – a trend that only encourages the predominantly Hindu country of Nepal to take similar actions.

The Church also conducts a good deal of aid distribution in communities of need throughout Nepal, which also raises the suspicions of local authorities and devout Hindus who see it as a ploy for conversions. In other words, the charitable actions of the Church are viewed with suspicion. Regardless of this, the Church continues their mission and remains adamant that no forced conversions are taking place, arguing that they are simply fulfilling the teachings of their faith in aiding and serving the poor. The free exercise of religion for Christians means doing exactly that.
Sources:persecution

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A Catholic priest Fr. Regalado has been shot dead in the Philippines

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A Filipino Catholic priest, Fr. Rene Bayang Regalado, was killed on Sunday by a group of gunmen in the town of Malaybalay, in the southern archipelago island of Mindanao.

Fr. Regalado, 42, was found dead at around 8:00 pm along a road near the Malaybalay Carmel Monastery in Patpat village. His body had a bruise near his left eye and a white shoelace was tied on his left hand.

Many believe that Fr. Regalado was returning to the St. John XXIII College Seminary where he was staying.

Killed by unknown gunmen
A statement issued on Monday by the diocese of Malaybalay indicates, according to the initial information gathered, that gunshots were heard on the road near the Malaybalay Carmel Monastery, Patpat, around 7:30 pm on Sunday, prompting the monastery to call the police for assistance.

Soon after, first responders from the local police arrived at the scene of the crime and conducted an initial investigation. Fr. Regalado’s body was then taken to a funeral home in preparation for an autopsy. His car was also taken to the Philippine National Police Headquarters as part of an ongoing official investigation.

Fr. Regalado will be buried at the Malaybalay Catholic cemetery on a date to be determine.Ordained to the priesthood on 18 October 2007, Fr. Regalado finished his baccalaureate degree in Theology at San Isidro College.

He had his pre-college and college seminary formation at St. John XXIII pre-college and college Seminaries in Malaybalay City. He finished his studies in theology at the St. John Mary Vianney Theological Seminary in Camama-an, Cagayan de Oro City.

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