Reported in Chinese by Qiao Nong. Translated by Carolyn Song. Written in English by Brynne Lawrence.
(Wenzhou, Zhejiang—March 8, 2016) The number of church crosses demolished in China’s coastal Zhejiang since the beginning of 2016 rose to 49 on March 3 as authorities across the province continue a cross removal campaign.
Earlier this year, churches in the province received official notices that threatened to forcibly demolish the churches’ crosses if they refused to voluntarily dismantle them.
After Zhongchang Church, located in Wenzhou, rejected this order, officials cut off the church’s access to water and electricity on Feb. 23. Currently, the church is incapable of holding religious services due to government interference.
|Officials remove the cross atop
Hai’an Church. (Photo: China Aid)
On Feb. 25, Hai’an Church in Wenzhou received a similar notice that demanded they “rectify” their church building by dissembling their cross by Feb. 29. After refusing to do so, the local government dispatched around 100 officers, and the cross was demolished on March 4.
Additionally, the Wenzhou Municipal Ministry of Land and Resources ordered Guozhuang Church members to destroy their cross, claiming they built their church building without prior government approval. According to the notice, the church was asked to personally demolish their cross and return the so-called illegally occupied land officials within three days of Feb. 23. Since they refused to do so, their cross was demolished on Feb. 26.
On March 1, when authorities arrived at Luxi Church to demolish its cross, a group of Christians confronted them, blocking their entrance as they sang Christian songs and prayed. According to a local official, some of the protesters became quite emotional, and the demolition crew was forced to cancel the demolition for fear of being responsible for an accident.
Despite similar resistance efforts occurring throughout the province, news has spread through Zhejiang that all church crosses will be demolished by April.
In addition to these churches mentioned above, Wenzhou authorities have demolished the following churches’ crosses since Jan. 26, 2016: Tangxia Christian Church, Zhuangyuan Catholic Church, Bajia Catholic Church, Xiuyang Church, Waipu Church, Qingkeng Church, Xixi Church, Sabbath Church, Dongtian Christian Church, Luoxi Church, Meiyuan Church, Lingjiao Church and Nanyangshan Church.
China Aid exposes religious freedom abuses, such as those experienced by churches in Zhejiang, in order to promote religious freedom and rule of law in China.