|Chencun Church re-installed the cross topping the
church. (Photo: China Aid)
By Rachel Ritchie
(Hangzhou, Zhejiang–May 22, 2015) Authorities in coastal Zhejiang ordered all churches in the Fuyan
“A notice was sent to people in Fuyang District, Hangzhou, stating that the crosses from all churches — at least 43 churches — in the district will be removed,” said Pastor Zhang Mingxuan, president of the Chinese House Church Alliance. “The authorities are carrying out the mission of the ‘Three Rectifications and One Demolition’ campaign.”
“This major church-state conflict is caused purely by the Zhejiang Communist Party leadership with the consent and encouragement of the central government,” China Aid founder and President Bob Fu said. “Chinese government leaders should be held accountable if this order escalates to a violent clash. The only viable solution is to respect the Chinese citizens’ true religious freedom as enshrined in the Chinese constitution and in universal norms to which the Chinese government has openly committed.”
“Though some of the threatened churches are government-sanctioned Three-Self Patriotic Movement (TSPM) churches, they still want to safeguard the cross,” Pastor Zhang Mingxuan said. “Some recently affected churches have reinstalled their crosses.”
According to local Christians, Pingyuan Church, whose cross was demolished on May 9, re-installed their cross twice in two weeks. The cross was removed again on Tuesday. Eight other churches whose crosses were removed between May 7-9 also re-installed their crosses, including Huachang Church and Chengguan Church of Jingning County, Lishui.
|In Liandu District, Lishui,
Pingyuan Church’s cross was
demolished for the third time
on May 20.
(Photo: China Aid)
In addition to Pingyuan Church, other crosses in Lishui were targeted on Tuesday, and at least three churches re-installed their crosses, including Chencun Church in Liandu District, Lishui. Another church in Liandu District, Shiniu Church, had its cross removed for the second time on Tuesday.
“I’ve heard that the government will convene a national conference in Wenzhou on the ‘Three Rectifications and One Demolition’ campaign,” a Christians from Wenzhou said. “The conference will take place in the city of Yiwu, which is under the jurisdiction of the city of Jinhua. The ‘Three Rectifications and One Demolition’ campaign may be launched on a national level.”
The conference, according to a report on the Yiwu News, published on May 5, is set to take place in mid-June.
“Last year, the authorities of Zhejiang removed churches’ crosses,” Hangzhou Christian and freelance journalist Zan Aizong said. “Some people speculated that the ‘Three Rectifications and One Demolition’ campaign was a pilot program in Zhejiang.”
“Legally speaking, there’s no law that says the cross is illegal,” Zan said. “Christians have every right to re-erect crosses. However, there’s a possibility that it’ll be removed again.”
“Another purpose of this campaign is to reduce Christianity’s impact on the Chinese society,” Guo Baosheng, a pastor at a Chinese American church, said. “The government just wants to hide the cross and make it very small. Of course, all of this persecution furthers their goal of the sinicization of Christianity. They want to reform Christianity and turn it into a variant to serve socialism and the Communist Party.”
g District of Hangzhou, the provincial capital, and the neighboring city of Huzhou to remove the crosses from atop their church buildings on Monday and Tuesday. Then, on Wednesday, crosses in Lishui were forcibly removed.
China Aid reports on cases such as this to expose the abuse against Christians and other religious practitioners to rally support for advancements in religious freedom and rule of law in China.