The Church of Almighty God and its members routinely endure the most persecution from the Chinese government.
The Church of Almighty God, or CAG, is one of the most targeted religious institutions in China’s quest to eliminate religious belief. So it goes without saying that its members would also be persecuted. Like 31-year-old Wang Lingjie from Fuzhou city in China’s southeastern Fujian Province. In 2017, she was illegally arrested and sentenced to nine years in prison on the charge of “using a xie jiao organization to undermine law enforcement.”
At around 9 p.m. on March 23, 2017, over 20 officers, led by Wang Feng – the captain of the National Security Brigade of Jizhou district, Ji’an city, in the southeast province of Jiangxi – burst into the room rented by Wang Lingjie and detained her along with three other CAG members. If the barging-in wasn’t enough, the officers spent more than an hour searching the room, drudging up multiple books containing the words of Almighty God, two laptops, two external hard drives, a passport, and other items. At around 11 p.m., the police took Wang Lingjie and the three other Christians to the National Security Brigade of Ji’an city’s Public Security Bureau for further interrogation.
The next day, Wang Lingjie was put under criminal detention on suspicion of “organizing and using a xie jiao organization to undermine law enforcement.” On April 8, she was placed under residential surveillance at Qingyuan Villa in Ji’an. It’s a common practice for Chinese law enforcement authorities to use hotels, villas, and hospitals as secret interrogation and indoctrination bases for religious believers and political dissidents. Some such facilities are used on a temporary basis, while others are long-term sites, which are sometimes transformed into so-called “legal education centers.”
Authorities sent specialized law enforcement personnel to Qingyuan villa to try to get Wang Lingjie to renounce her faith by using its typical indoctrination methods. The government also wanted to enlist her help in arresting other CAG members and appropriating church assets.
But she refused. And on May 9, Wang Lingjie was transferred to Ji’an City Detention Center and detained there.
On January 4, 2018, Wang Lingjie’s case was heard in the People’s Court of Jizhou district in Ji’an. Instead of assigning a defense lawyer to Wang Lingjie, as required by the law, the court summoned three of her relatives to confirm that she was a member of The Church of Almighty God. Wang Lingjie didn’t cower, standing up in court and admitting that she believed in Almighty God and was engaged in legitimate religious practices, arguing that her beliefs didn’t constitute a crime.
She was nonetheless found guilty and given a heavy sentence in accordance with Paragraph 1 of Article 300 of the Criminal Law of the People’s Republic of China, which says that anyone who is active in a xie jiao organization will get a prison sentence of three to seven years, though authorities are stricter on CAG members; and Wang Lingjie was given nine – she’s eligible for release in 2026. She was also fined 20,000 RMB, roughly $3,000.
As for the three Christians arrested alongside her, they were also given prison sentences: Zhou Hualan and Cai Ruhua were each sentenced to eight years in prison and fined 15,000 RMB, or $2,200. Li Xiaoling was sentenced to three years in prison, four years’ probation and fined 5,000 RMB, or $730.
In late January 2018, Wang Lingjie, Zhou Hualan, and Cai Ruhua were transferred to the Nanchang City Women’s Prison in Jiangxi Province, where they remain serving out their sentences.
Reported by Lin Yijiang