Shanghai: A Chinese court jailed a Christian pastor for one year for disturbing public order after he sought to stop a cross being removed from atop a church, a US-based religious rights group said.
The court in Pingyang county sentenced Huang Yizi on Tuesday, the China Aid Association said in a statement.
Huang was detained after members of the Salvation Church and others sought to prevent authorities from taking down a cross in July, according to the group.
A spokesman for the court told AFP: "We just conducted the sentencing in accordance with the law."
China Aid founder Bob Fu condemned the sentence.
"Through arbitrary arrest, baseless prosecution, and illegal procedures throughout the trial, this case shows once again the worsening situation of religious freedom and rule of law in China," he said in the statement.
"We call upon China`s higher authorities to overturn this unjust decision and free Pastor Huang immediately," he said.
Pingyang is in Zhejiang province, where authorities ordered at least five churches to be demolished or to remove prominent crosses from their rooftops last year, according to media reports.
Religious activists believe the moves were part of a wider crackdown on Protestant Christians, cloaked in a campaign against structures violating building codes.
China`s ruling Communist Party keeps a tight hold on religion for fear it could challenge its grip on power, requiring followers to worship in places approved by the state and under government supervision.