Six members of the movement received jail terms up to five years in Ma’anshan City.
by Massimo Introvigne
Readers of Bitter Winter are familiar with the Shouters, and with the problems in using this name, which in fact designates a network of different groups claiming to follow the tradition of Chinese ministers Watchman Nee (1903–1972) and Witness Lee (1905–1997). Shouters are banned as a xie jiao by the CCP.
Last week, the People’s Court of Yushan District in the prefecture-level city of Ma’anshan, Anhui, sentenced six people accused of having organized a local congregation of the Shouters in Ma’anshan. As usual, Article 300 of the Chinese Criminal Code was applied, and the defendants were sentenced for “using a xie jiao to undermine the enforcement of law,” a formula that normally includes any religious activity within a group classified as a xie jiao.
A certain Li Mou was identified as the ringleader. According to the court’s decision, Li induced a friend called Huang to download religious material from the Internet, and co-defendants Shi and Xu offered their homes to organize meetings where the Ma’anshan Shouters sang hymns, prayed, and studied the Bible and the movement’s textbooks. Religious leaflets, CDs, USB flash drives, digital projectors, and laptops were also seized.
Between 2017 and 2018, a youth group was also organized, and met in the houses of two other defendants called Song and Chen. Participants included children of the organizers and others, and according to the court the youth group had more than 20 members.
Involving minors in spiritual activities is forbidden to any religious group in China, and is seen as an aggravating circumstance for those accused of being active in a xie jiao.
Li and his five co-defendants were sentenced to jail terms from one and a half to five years, plus fines. As usual, they do not appear to have committed any crime other than practicing and preaching their faith peacefully.