China's Chinese Christian Congress, Three-Self Patriotic Movement condemns cross demolition, asks churches to follow law regarding illegal structures

Monday, May 19, 2014

China Aid Association

(Beijing—May 19, 2014) The National Chinese Christian Congress and Three-Self Patriotic Movement released an open letter to Christians in China's coastal Zhejiang province on May 12, asking them to abide by the law by properly resolving problems stemming from illegal structures.

In the letter, below, the group states that Zhejiang's "Three Rectifications and One Demolition" campaign does not single out religious buildings. It "aims at illegal structures throughout China that violate the law and regulations governing land management and urban/rural planning," the group said.
However, the letter also condemned the government's removal, modification and demolition of crosses at church, saying "the cross is an important sign of Christianity... If it does not exceed the design standard, and it does not have safety concerns, we think it is very improper to demolish them."

Answers to questions raised by some worshippers on churches and crosses and other issues involved in “Three Rectifications and One Demolition” campaign in Zhejiang province.
[Editor’s note: Recently, during the unfolding of the campaign, “Three Rectifications and One Demolition” (Rectification and renovation of old residential district, old factory district and villages inside the cities and demolition of illegal structures), the Zhejiang provincial government has demolished some Christian buildings and annex buildings that were suspected of violating the building codes. Many worshippers, out of their emotions for their faith and out of concern for social harmony, have sent us many letters and made many calls to us, asking for related information. After the National Chinese Christian Congress/Three-Self Patriotic Movement (CCC/TSPM) learned the basic information, it now gives its open answers to the relevant issues as follows:]

According to our knowledge, the campaign “Three Rectifications and One Demolition” unfolded by the Zhejiang provincial government aims at illegal structures throughout China that violate the law and regulations governing land management and urban/rural planning. It aims at promoting the new urbanization, improving the beauty of urban and rural areas, and optimizing the human environment. To this original intention, churches and their worshippers in various places should understand and support it.

In the process of “Three Rectifications and One Demolition,” some churches in Zhejiang province were suspected of violating the building code and were commanded to be demolished or renovated. For this, we hope the local CCC/TSPM, pastors and worshippers of the church should regard the government’s law enforcement in a correct and rational way. They should assume the responsibilities out of their own initiative, work for the rectifications and renovation at an early date, make an effort to properly solve the problems that are already there within the framework of the law and the regulations, and safeguard the good image of Christians in the society—that they love the country and abide by the law. Besides, they should learn the lesson and enhance their awareness of abiding by the law. In the meantime, we also implore the relevant government departments can consult more with the local CCC/TSPM and individual churches to properly settle the matter under the condition of protecting the legitimate rights of the religious people and respecting the religious feelings of the worshippers. In a few places, there were forced demolitions that affected the social harmony. This is what we don’t want to see.

In recent days, there have been incidents throughout Zhejiang province in which crosses of the churches were demolished or moved. This is disconcerting. As we all know, the cross is an important sign of Christianity, and it represents the worshippers’ simple religious feelings. If it does not exceed the design standard, and it does not have safety concerns, we think it is very improper to demolish them or move them to another place. Such an action should be stopped immediately!

It is our belief that the Party’s policy on the freedom of religion will not change. The National CCC/TSPM will continue to enhance its communication with the relevant departments of the government, passing along the worshippers’ reasonable demands and safeguarding the churches’ legitimate rights. In the meantime, before God, we will pray sincerely for the church buildings, co-workers and our comrades in Zhejiang, and we implore the Lord to endow them with wisdom so that they can correctly and properly solve the issues they now face. We also implore the Lord to bless their confidence—stand firm in the love of Christ!

National CCC/TSPM

May 12, 2014

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