Christian persecution watchdogs have warned of the repeated severe abuse against the leader of South China Church, who is now imprisoned by the Chinese government for the charge of forming "evil cult organization."
Pastor Gong Shengliang was recently beaten up in Hong Shan prison, Wuhan, Hubei Province, according to the report of the Texas-based Chinese Christian watchdog China Aid Association (CAA) on June 2. The U.S.-based international Christian group Voice of the Martyrs (VOM) has also confirmed the report, describing the attack as "merciless". The attack happened on March 21 and was so bad that the Pastor has experienced hearing loss and couldn't move his mouth for at least three days. Currently, Gong’s face is still swollen.
Not only Gong was abused physically, has he also refrained from reading Christian books in the prison and having contact with family members. According to CAA, Gong's eldest sister Gong Shuqin was refused by the prison authority to have a "family dinner" with Gong and was give only ten minutes to speak to him. Gong has no religious rights in prison at all.
Gong is known as the founder of the controversial South China Church originated from Hubei province, an important center of Protestant Christianity in China, according to the investigation of Freedom House, a human rights organization in Washington D.C.
Gong’s Church is a break-off group from Peter Xu's All Ranges Church "quan fan wei" [also known as Total Scope Church or Born Again movement], is a large evangelical church estimated to have at least 50,000 members in eight provinces in China, says a secret document obtained by Freedom House.
Freedom House recognizes Xu’s Church as an orthodox evangelical group, but the identity of South China Church is doubtful. CAA’s independent report says Gong has personal moral flaws and some extreme ministry teachings. Some church members have taken acts of revenge in face of persecution.
Furthermore, South China Church was labeled an "evil cult" by top secret government document bearing the official seal of the General Squad of National Security and Defense of Beijing Bureau of Public Security.
Nevertheless, CAA concluded "the Chinese government and its abusive agencies should be held accountable for its massive religious persecution and torture against members of the South China Church," stated in its press release.
"The Bible teaches Christians to love others as ourselves and even to love our enemies, anyone whose actions are contrary to these teachings should take spiritual, moral and legal responsibility," Rev. Bob Fu, president of CAA commented, "Meanwhile, we urge the Chinese government to hold those authorities accountable in accordance with the law, to respect the constitutional rights of the prisoners by allowing Mr. Gong to receive necessary medical treatment."
VOM encourages Christians to express concern over the case related to Gong and the South China Church. Since his case was posted on PrisonerAlert.com in 2004, more than 2,000 encouraging letters were sent to Gong, along with approximately 800 e-mails to government officials advocating his release, reported VOM. VOM urges Christians to write letter of support and appeal for Gong to the government officials.