State Department Slams China Over Shutting Down Christian Church Service


The State Department rebuked China’s government on Tuesday for shutting down a Christian church service over the weekend.

“We are deeply concerned by reports of Chinese government harassment of Early Rain Covenant Church members,” State Department spokesperson Heather Nauert said.

“We call on China to uphold its international commitments to promote respect for religious freedom for all,” she added.

The New York Times reported that Chinese authorities arrested the nondenominational Christian church’s pastor, Wang Yi, on Friday after he planned to hold a May 12 memorial service to honor the 75,000 victims of the 2008 Wenchuan earthquake. He was released the next day.

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“The police also took away dozens of people who arrived for the planned service on Saturday morning, and they used trucks to remove publications belonging to the church, indicating that a broader move was underway against the congregation,” according to The Times.

“Today more than 200 brothers and sisters were taken away by the police, and three still have not been released,” Wang, 44, said in a phone message to members of his church. “The religious case of the Early Rain Covenant has begun.”

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The pastor has been a strong critic of the Chinese government’s efforts to control religious worship in his country.

Wang pledged to keep up the fight for religious liberty.

“We will also face this following faith and conscience,” he said in the message to church members. “We will not obey any unjust and unlawful demands, and are willing to pay the price.”

Nauert joined with the Christian leader in calling on China to live up to its commitments to protect religious liberty.

“Regarding reports that Chinese authorities confiscated Bibles, we call on China to uphold its international commitments to promote respect for religious freedom for all persons,” she said. “The United States government joins the people of China in mourning the loss of tens of thousands of lives in the tragedy, and notes the value of memorializing their lives and calling for full accountability to prevent or mitigate future disasters.”

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The Times reported that since the 2008 Wenchuan earthquake, there has been tension between the Chinese government and the local population, with the anniversary each year renewing calls for an official reckoning why so many died due to collapsed buildings, especially students in schools.

The State Department’s condemnation of China’s crackdown on the church comes as the U.S. and the Asian power are engaged in high-stakes trade negotiations.

President Donald Trump tweeted on Sunday that the talks are going well, but more concessions by China are needed.

Trump has promised to impose tariffs on multiple Chinese goods if an agreement cannot be reached, which lowers the trade deficit with China and protects American intellectual property.

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Randy DeSoto has written more than 3,000 articles for The Western Journal since he joined the company in 2015. He is a graduate of West Point and Regent University School of Law. He is the author of the book "We Hold These Truths" and screenwriter of the political documentary "I Want Your Money."
Randy DeSoto is the senior staff writer for The Western Journal. He wrote and was the assistant producer of the documentary film "I Want Your Money" about the perils of Big Government, comparing the presidencies of Ronald Reagan and Barack Obama. Randy is the author of the book "We Hold These Truths," which addresses how leaders have appealed to beliefs found in the Declaration of Independence at defining moments in our nation's history. He has been published in several political sites and newspapers.

Randy graduated from the United States Military Academy at West Point with a BS in political science and Regent University School of Law with a juris doctorate.
Harrisburg, Pennsylvania
Graduated dean's list from West Point
United States Military Academy at West Point, Regent University School of Law
Books Written
We Hold These Truths
Professional Memberships
Virginia and Pennsylvania state bars
Phoenix, Arizona
Languages Spoken
Topics of Expertise
Politics, Entertainment, Faith