“For the extramarital sexual iniquity that I once committed in 1990 before I became a born-again Christian, I once again confess my sins to God and seek his forgiveness, and offer my apologies to the party that [was] involved in that relationship.”

With that March 2 statement, Yuan Zhiming, founder of China Soul for Christ Foundation, “temporarily resigned from all pastoral duties and ministries, so as to retreat in the Lord and seek renewal.” The statement concerns accusations against Yuan from Chai Ling, founder of All Girls Allowed (AGA). Chai says Yuan raped her in 1990, and that it was not simply a matter of extramarital sexual sin.

Yuan and Chai are two of the highest-profile Christian leaders among the world’s 50 million overseas Chinese, including some 3.7 million residing in the United States. Both of them were dissidents during the 1989 Tiananmen Square democracy protests and later converted to Christianity after fleeing to the United States. Yuan’s foundation focuses on church growth, Christian discipleship, and video production. His evangelism conference in Hong Kong this past November was deemed China’s No. 3 Christian news story of 2014 by the China Times. In 2011, Chai formed AGA to fight China’s coercive one-child policy. Her leadership at Tinanmen has earned her two Nobel Peace Prize nominations.

“Most Chinese churches in North America are independent local churches without denominational affiliation. There is no proper ‘magisterium’ that can handle disputes among ‘celebrity’ Christians, who live and work on the other side of the coast, for a case that happened 24 years ago,” said Zhiqiu Xu, a pastor and professor of ...

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