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Christmas persecution: Zhejiang church's cross removed, schools not allowed to celebrate Christmas

Monday, January 5, 2015

Tiazhou authorities removed Jiachi Christian Church’s cross
on Dec. 29, 2014. (Photo: China Aid)
China Aid
By Rachel Ritchie

(Taizhou, Zhejiang—Jan. 5, 2015) During Christmastime, the cross on one church in China’s coastal Zhejiang was removed, and schools in another part of the province were forbidden from celebrating Christmas. Meanwhile, students at a university in the inland Shaanxi province were forced to watch propaganda films by school administrators, and house church Christians in coastal Anhui were required to submit their demographic information to the local religious affairs bureau.

In Taizhou, Zhejiang, authorities in Jiaojiang District arrived at the Jiachi Christian Church on Dec. 28, stating that the cross topping the church violated building codes. By the following morning, the cross had been removed.

“Some say [the local authorities] got approval [to remove the cross], but others say they didn’t [get approval],” one worshipper told China Aid on the condition of anonymity. The Christian went on to say that authorities used the excuse that the cross violated building codes, just like officials have done in “every city in Zhejiang.”

Zhejiang has been the target of religious persecution in the form of cross removals and church demolitions through the “Three Rectifications and One Demolition” campaign since February 2014. During the eleven-month period, more than 425 churches have been affected by the persecution campaign.

The Taizhou-based worshipper said that Jiachi Christian Church, which cost more than 10 million Yuan (U.S. $1.6 million), was completed in late 2009 and that the dedication ceremony was attended by leaders from the local religious affairs bureau and other government agencies.

The church’s original building was demolished in 1999 in an effort to cooperate with a request from the government; it took Jiachi Christian Church several years to locate a new site on which to construct the current building.

Before Christmas, in Wenzhou, Zhejiang, the local education bureau issued a notice prohibiting the area’s schools from participating in any Christmas activities. Also, gatherings at some government-sanctioned churches in Wenzhou were monitored by police officers.

In China’s inland Shaanxi, administrators at the Modern College of Northwest University forbade students from celebrating Christmas in any way and forced them to watch propaganda films, according to the state-run Beijing News. One student told Beijing News that the three-hour long screening was mandatory and that students who didn’t attend were punished. Teachers were posted at the doors of the viewing areas to prevent students from leaving.

In coastal Anhui, a worshipper reported that the local religious affairs bureau was forcing all churches to register their congregates’ demographic information with the state agency.

“The person in charge of religious affairs in our town required us to report our worshippers’ information to them, including the worshippers’ names, ages and occupations. I don’t think it’s appropriate to do so, but the [religious affairs bureau] will intervene. They said I should hand over the information in a week’s time. If they ask me for it, I will tell them I can’t [give them the information],” a local church leader said.

China Aid Contacts
Rachel Ritchie, English Media Director
Cell: (432) 553-1080 | Office: 1+ (888) 889-7757 | Other: (432) 689-6985
Email: r.ritchie@chinaaid.org 
Website: www.chinaaid.org

"Bob Fu has dedicated his life to bringing freedom of religion to the Chinese people. His story is a testimony to the power of faith and an inspiration to people struggling to break free from oppression."
—Mrs. Laura Bush

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