A Chinese pastor has been sentenced to 14 years in jail, and his wife to 12 years, after they were found guilty of corruption, financial crimes and gathering people to disturb social order, an official provincial newspaper reported today (26 Feb.).

Both Bao Guohua, the pastor of a state-sanctioned church, and his wife, Xing Wenxiang, had nearly $100,000 confiscated from them and were fined around $15,000 each.

The newspaper reported that 10 other Christians from the same city – Jinhua in Zhejiang Province –also received jail terms.

Zhejiang is the coastal province where more than 1,200 crosses have been removed from churches over the past two years. Those who opposed the cross removals have been dealt with severely. Zheng Leguo, a house-church pastor now in the US, told the New York Times he believed Bao had been arrested because he had tried to prevent a cross being removed from his church.

In January, Gu Yuese, another pastor, was arrested and charged with embezzling funds, though rights activists claimed the move was “politically motivated” after he spoke out against the cross removals.

Source: New York Times