The pastor of a Chinese state-sanctioned church has become the first church leader to attempt to file a lawsuit against the Government after religious management agencies forcibly destroyed her church last year.
According to International Christian Concern, the leader of the state-mandated (Three-Self) Donghu Church, Wang Ruiqin, instructed her lawyer to sue the religious management agencies at Xining City and Chengxi District at the beginning of July. The attorney, Lin Qilei, explained that since Xining City is not permitting any administrative litigation cases, the lawsuit had to be filed with the local Railway Transportation Court.
The court has since informed the attorney that the case cannot be answered because there is no way to verify that Wang is Donghu church’s senior leader and further that the demolition was carried out by the Chengxi District’s religious management agency.
Wang Ruiqin is a former member of the Qinghai Province Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) who has worked on behalf of churches in their confrontations with local government. In 2018, she wrote a letter to the head of China’s religious affairs bureau, imploring government officials to learn about religion so they can be better equipped to communicate with churches. She also advised the authorities to help official Three-Self churches to abide by regulations, rather than simply harassing them.
On Easter Sunday last year, a team from the Xining City Chengxi District Urban and Rural Construction Bureau tore down Donghu Church, insisting that the church was illegal and citing “safety concerns.”
The church was the oldest and largest congregation in the Chengxi district, having been established as a Three-Self church in 2003 and having over 300 members.
Wang has said she will continue to exhaust all the legal avenues available to protect the rights of local churches against the Xining City Religious Affairs Bureau’s relentless agenda.