A leader of a state-run church in China’s Henan province leapt to his death after experiencing growing despair over the Chinese Communist Party’s religious policies.
The pastor of a state-mandated church in China committed suicide after spiraling into a pit of despair over the Chinese government’s iron-clad religious restrictions.
Reverend Song Yongsheng, who led a church in China’s Henan province, threw himself off the rooftop after saying it was “a failure” trying to work with the government.
In his suicide note, Pastor Song said he tried to convince the Chinese authorities to open up a way for the every church movement to in order to improve the wellbeing of churches, unregistered or not, and to bridge the divide between the two. This goal, he said, became impossible to achieve, with officials remaining committed to criminalizing Christians who refused to bow down to the government.
Reverend Song Yongsheng, whose name means “eternal life,” said he hoped that his “martyrdom” could help bring light to the Chinese regime’s abuses before he jumped from a building on July 17.
The Chinese Government enforces strict policies surrounding the practicing of religion and demands that any functioning church must be registered to the Religious Affairs Bureau, which effectively keeps them aligned with communist ideals.
According to China Aid, Song was the chairman of Shangqiu’s Three-Self Patriotic Movement (TSPM) and the president of the city’s China Christian Council (CCC). The two organizations serve as China’s only official Christian institutions, and it is illegal to practice Christianity in churches not within the TSPM network.
The constant control and oppression and lack of cooperation showed by the Communist regime had left him “exhausted,” Song wrote.
In the past few years, the Chinese government has introduced a “Sinicization” campaign that aims to alter religions in order to bring them in line with the Communist Party’s agenda. As such, new regulations have been instituted, bringing religions under increased restrictions and persecuting those who do not comply, even if they are simply practicing their faith.
According to Asia News, all information surrounding the pastor’s untimely death was censored by the Chinese government. “The pastor’s funeral was controlled by government agents, who at the same time censored any reference to the man on social networks,” the report noted, adding that the minister’s body was immediately cremated after his death.
Knowing that they would be stripped of their true Christian identity, huge swathes of Christian churches rebelled against government control and have been forced “underground” as a result.
These illegal congregations face daily oppression and persecution for simply believing in Jesus. One such church in this situation is Early Rain Covenant in Chengdu, Sichuan.
The government has been relentlessly trying to shutter the church’s ministry activities by intimidating, arresting and even torturing congregants. Still, they refuse to cease worshipping. Senior Pastor Wang Yi faces a lengthy set of charges and is currently being held without bail.
China ranks 27th on Christian support organization Open Doors 2019 World Watch list of the 50 countries where it is most difficult to be a Christian.