|A demolished church cross. (Photo:
By Brynne Lawrence
Updated 2:28 p.m. CDT on Feb. 9, 2016
(Wenzhou, Zhejiang—Feb. 5, 2016) Groups totaling more than 100 government officials broke into two churches in China’s coastal Zhejiang province and demolished their crosses on the early morning of Jan. 28.
According to reports from local Christians, authorities secretly entered Shangye Village Church in Rui’an, Wenzhou and Funan Church in Jiaxing and simultaneously demolished their church crosses. Police controlled Christians who congregated outside to protest.
From Jan. 25–27, authorities also destroyed six more church crosses, triggering speculation
concerning a new wave of persecution.
“A few clergymen are now being held,” a local Christian said. “There has been no information from them. Even their families can’t contact them. The [number of] demolished crosses has now reached 1,800.”
In Jan. 2014, Zhejiang’s government launched the “Three Rectifications and One Demolition” campaign with the objective of either correcting or demolishing “illegal structures.” It quickly became clear, however, that the initiative’s true focus was churches, crosses and other religious sites.
According to local Christians, officials have removed 18 crosses since the beginning of this year.
Church attendees noted that current attempts to destroy church crosses deviate slightly in method from previous ones. In the past, government bureaus notified church members of plans to demolish a cross. Lately, the officials prefer to secretly dismantle crosses without delivering any prior notification.
Additionally, the Three-Self Patriotic Movement (TSPM) is pressuring house church attendees to destroy their own church’s cross. According to a TSPM staff member, the organization dispatched him to a rural church in order to personally encourage church attendees to carry out destruction efforts.
A list of churches demolished since Jan. 1 can be read in full below.
China Aid reports cases such as this one to expose violations of religious freedom and promote freedom of religion and rule of law in China.