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A husband and wife ministry team in China will each spend more than a decade in prison after they protested the Chinese government’s on-going project to remove crosses from Christian churches around the country. Pastor Bao Guohua was sentenced to 14 years in prison, and his wife, Xing Wenxiang, was sentenced to 12. Together, they had led a large government-sanctioned church in the Zhejiang providence, which is home to a quickly-growing Christian community.

According to a state media report referenced by The New York Times, the couple was officially sentenced for “illegal activities, including corruption and disturbing social order” and were accused of misappropriating church funds on personal purchases, but their sentencing aligns with a disturbing pattern in the country: When pastors speak out against the removal of crosses, they are arrested on trumped up charges.

RELEVANT recently spoke to China Aid’s Kody Kness about the arrest of megachurch pastor Joseph Gu, who was also accused of corruption after opposing the cross-removal program last month. Kness said:

It’s unprecedented persecution against the Church, where church leaders are going to prison, are being sent to mental institutions, are being beaten and tortured and where crosses have been forcibly removed from now over 1,800 churches since 2014 … When Gu spoke out against the cross demolitions, which now reached over 1,800, the ramification was that he was accused of embezzlement.

He explained that as the Church’s influence has grown in the country, their emphasis on faith and basic human rights is viewed as a threat to many in the atheist communist government. The program to remove crosses, or, in some cases, completely destroy churches because of “building violations” is an attempt to reseize power from the growing Christian community. So far, more than 1,200 church crosses have been taken down.

So you have a social movement which is talking about allegiance to something other than the Communist party. It’s talking about human rights and will of law and justice and kind of bringing China into the national community … It’s symbolic. When you have a church cross that’s higher than a Chinese flag or is the highest symbol in that region or that city then that is a direct threat to the Chinese government. In some cases the Chinese government is actually requesting and enforcing that churches raise a national flag, a Chinese flag, over their cross.

Christian Persecution in China Is Even Worse Than You Thought

What's behind the communist government's recent crackdown. Read More

The highest ranking member of China’s officially recognized Protestant church has been imprisoned after he vocally opposed the government’s plan to demolish crosses displayed on churches in the province of Zhejiang. According to reports from the group China Aid, Pastor Gu Yuese has been placed in a “black jail” and is under “residential surveillance.” Gu’s wife and several family members are also now missing.

In a statement, the president and founder of the group China Aid, Bob Fu, said, “His arrest marks a major escalation in the crackdown against those who oppose the forced demolition of crosses. He will be the highest-ranking national church leader arrested since the Cultural Revolution.” Government officials have disputed the details of his imprisonment, saying that he is being investigated for “suspicions of economic issues, including embezzling money.” Activists and supporters, however, have said that the arrest was motivated by Gu’s opposition to the government’s recent crackdown. Discuss

The Chinese government announced today that it will lift the 35-year-old one child per family policy, now allowing two children per family. The historic policy reversal was made in hopes that it would counteract the effects of the country’s aging population. Thirty percent of the country is over 50, with one-tenth over 65.

Under the old policy, families were forced to pay fines if they had a second child. There were also accounts of forced abortions. As males were generally seen as more desirable, the country also has suffered from an extreme gender imbalance. Discuss

Impressive marketing strategy? Proof that the housing bubble is about the crash? The end of the world as we know it? In any case, strange things have been afoot in China, where menacing skyscrapers have been spotted in the clouds above the country’s Foshan and Jiangxi regions. As The Mirror reports, the phenomena has been dismissed as Fata Morgana, an optical illusion where light passing through different temperatures creates a mirage.

All decent theories for sure. But isn’t it obvious, people? The country has finally found the alien race they’ve been looking for. Here’s hoping those celestial buildings are rent controlled. Discuss

As The Independent reports, China is about to get into the alien hunt in a big way. The nation will play host to the world’s largest intelligent life-form seeking telescope. The 500-meter Aperture Spherical Telescope (or FAST, for short) is slated to be located in the Guizhou province.

“A radio telescope is like a sensitive ear, listening to tell meaningful radio messages from white noise in the universe," scientist Nan Rendong told the Xinhua news agency. “It is like identifying the sound of cicadas in a thunderstorm.”

No word yet on if any alien life forms have been found. Or, at least, reported. As we learned from Men in Black, they’re pretty much working in every public service industry in the nation, right? Discuss