07/20/2019, 10.49
CHINA
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Exhausted by Party control, official Christian pastor commits suicide

by Lu Haitao

Song Yongsheng led the Protestant church in Shangqiu.  He threw himself from the roof of the building and left a letter-testament: "I wanted to work with the government, but it was a failure.  I want to be the first martyr of this terrible situation".

 

Beijing (AsiaNews) - The leader of the official Protestant church in Shangqiu, in the province of Henan, committed suicide by jumping off the roof of the building on 17 July last.  The news was censored by all media under the communist authorities, who ordered the immediate cremation of the body.  The pastor's funeral was controlled by government agents, who at the same time censored any reference to the man on social networks.

Song Yongsheng left a letter-testament denouncing the control of religion by the government and the Communist Party.  In the text he described himself as "exhausted" by the situation.

In the letter, Song asked the government to allow the church to open a new entrance for the faithful and thus avoid road accidents.  However, he explains, Christian organizations have failed to register with the government and the "patriotic" association responsible for controlling religion: therefore they have not received the funds.  “I wanted to collaborate the church and government with my belief and charisma, but now it is a failure” he wrote adding “I am willing to be the first martyr” [of this terrible situation] ".

The pastor's wife circulated some messages to tell that her husband fasted four days before he died.  The body was cremated on 19 July, and only the presence of two church representatives was permitted.  The government has forbidden the family and the faithful to hold public funeral services.

Wang Yang, a member of the Communist Politburo (the highest level of decision-making in the Party), visited the province of Henan last April.  During the visit, he strongly emphasized the CCP leadership on religions and recalled the political direction of the "synicization" of faith.  In 2018 there were frequent reports of church demolitions and arrests against unofficial Christian groups.  The repression, which began in the Zhejiang province, has spread throughout the nation.

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