A court in China's Hubei province has sentenced a female Christian pastor to eight years in prison on charges of 'fraud for preaching the gospel.'
Her house church refused to join the state-controlled body that regulates Protestant churches, according to reports.
As reported by UCA News, the Ezhou Echeng District People's Court sentenced Pastor Hao Zhiwei of Egangqiao Church in Ezhou city to eight years in prison earlier this month.
Her lawyer Si Weijiang said the 51-year-old pastor had been charged with fraud for preaching the gospel and receiving donations from church members without approval from the state-run Committee of the Three-Self Patriotic Movement of the Protestant Churches and the Christian Council.
Hao, who was arrested in July 2019, is the first pastor of a Chinese house church implicated in a fraud case, and will appeal her sentencing, watchdog group Church in Chains said.
Hao's church building had been demolished in August 2019 and was facing ongoing persecution, the group said, adding that after the pastor's arrest, the authorities arrested several more house church pastors on the same charge, including Elder Zhang Chunlei of Guiyang Renai Reformed Church and Elders Hao Ming and Wu Jiannan of Deyang Early Rain Qingcaodi Church.