A Chinese preacher who was recently arrested for preaching and singing hymns in a public park without prior government authorization has filed a lawsuit against the police.
Cao Nan, 39, regularly conducts charity work in the city of Shenzhen, and also shares the Gospel on the streets. Last December, while preaching and singing hymns with other Christians in Lizhi Park, he was taken into custody and held for twelve days under the charge of “conducting activities in the name of religion that harm society.”
“I am indeed a Christian,” Nan told The Daily Telegraph. “I did not pretend to be one or use the name of Christianity [falsely]. We were just singing the Gospel and preaching Christian principles. I think they just found an excuse to detain people, to warn and to threaten.”
Nan, who worships at a local house church, told reporters that he believes the government is fearful that if Christianity grows in the nation, it could threaten China’s Communist regime.
“They are worried that if they allow Christianity to grow, its influence will surpass that of the Communist Party, win the public’s favor and challenge the governance of the ruling party,” he said. “They also have worries that it might be used by anti-China parties or countries.”
“These are all their worries. But in reality, Christians love the country and the people,” Nan added. “Even if one billion Chinese people became Christians, it would not pose any threat to the current regime.”
Following a recent statement by the Chinese government that the nation’s religious policies would remain unchanged, Nan decided to file a lawsuit and challenge the actions of police. In his complaint, he asserts that the Christians were peaceful and caused no harmed to anyone in the area. Nan also states that he has preached in the city over 100 times, and only a few of those times has he been reprimanded by police.
In China, it is against the law to worship at an unregistered assembly. The churches that are authorized are overseen by specific groups, such as the Three-Self Patriotic Movement, which manages Protestant churches.
Nan, who seeks to have his crimes erased from his record, said that he hopes his lawsuit will encourage and challenge other Christians in the country to to speak up for their rights. He states that he is not afraid of the consequences for doing what is right.
“I didn’t do this for myself,” Nan said. “As a Christian, I’m totally happy to suffer for my beliefs.”
“I hope we can prove that preaching the Gospel is legal through legal means,” he added. “I hope more and more Christians will have the courage to speak out and to help change and improve China’s moral crisis.”
Nan’s lawsuit was filed in Futian District People’s Court. The court can choose to refuse the case if it wishes to do so.