After house church members are sentenced, prisoner's wife boldly challenges judge

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. — The wife of a Chinese believer imprisoned for his faith has filed an unprecedented court motion calling for the presiding judge in the case to be removed. Tang Houyong, Shu Wenxiang and Xie Zhenqi each received a one-year sentence of re-education through labor for "illegal proselytizing" and attending an "illegal gathering."

In late January 2009, Tang's wife filed the motion in Henan province after a local court refused to accept an administrative lawsuit in the case, according to the human rights organization ChinaAid. The motion to dismiss the chief justice alleges the court had no legal basis to refuse the case, violated the law by refusing to provide receipts documenting the lawsuit had been filed and violated legal procedure by causing a long delay without making a decision on the case.

More than 50 Christians were gathered in the home Xie Ruming in Taikang county, on December 3, 2008, in the Henan province when officials, from the Taikang County Domestic Defense Protection Squad, suddenly broke into the home.  All of the Christians were arrested and officials seized the following items: 22 copies of the textbook "Training in Ministering the Gospel to Children" designed for proselytizing for the children, seven optical discs, 15 pages of proselytizing series lessons and other items.

ChinaAid confirmed that about 20 of the Christians were sentenced to 15 days of administrative detention and a 1,000 yuan fine. They were accused of being a "Shouter evil cult." However, all of the arrested are members of a mainstream house church group called China Gospel Fellowship. The three leaders were sentenced to one year of re-education through labor:  Mr. Tang Houyong, Mr. Shu Wenxiang and Mr. Xie Zhenqi.

"We applaud the courageous move by the house church leader to pursue justice in light of religious persecution with the spirit of rule of law," said ChinaAid's president, Bob Fu. "We urge the international community to continue to pressure this Chinese local court to up hold true justice by overturning the illegal decision against the three church leaders."


BP news and Christian Examiner