Authorities remove crosses on churches in Zhejiang, Shandong

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Believers watch as authorities lower the cross
from the roof at Xinde Church in Ningbo,
Zhejiang on Nov. 12, 2014. (Photo courtesy of
Xinde Church.)
China Aid Association
By Rachel Ritchie

(Ningbo, Zhejiang—Nov. 25, 2014) Three churches in the Chinese coastal provinces Zhejiang and Shandong have been targeted for cross removal by local authorities in the past few weeks.

In Ningbo, Xiangshan County police forcibly removed the cross topping the county’s first Christian church, Xinde Church, on Nov. 12. According to a church member, more than 100 police officers and demolition workers were dispatched to cordon the area around Xinde Church at about 3 a.m. and to begin demolishing the church’s cross as worshippers watched quietly.

“It is said that the church has all the approval papers,” a worshipper said of Xinde Church, which was built in 1875. “The [government’s] purpose is just to take down the cross of our church in order to deliver us a blow. The government doesn’t care how long our church’s history is. If they want to take down our cross, they just come and take it. What they say, we must do.”

“We are remembering this dark night,” another Christian said. “Though evil seems to be winning, our heavenly father is still in control.”

On Nov. 14, two days after Xinde Church’s cross was removed, authorities in the Huangyan District of Taizhou demolished Shangnian Church’s cross.

“About 20 people [from the government] came to the church,” a Shangnian Church member said. “They started at about 10:30 a.m. and took the cross down after 11 a.m. The [police] arrived at the scene at 8:30 a.m. Because the church members [tried to] reason with them, they said they would go away, but they didn’t. They said even if they went away on that day, our church’s cross still has to be taken down no matter what.”

On Nov. 14, 2014, officials removed the cross
from atop Shangnian Church in Taizhou,
Zhejiang. (Photo courtesy of Shangnian
“Many churches face the same situation. The government will find some fault with the church and say something like the church doesn’t have all the necessary papers. Then they come up with excuses to take down our crosses,” the believer said.

In Linyi, Shandong, authorities pressured a Three-Self Patriotic Movement church to decrease the size of their church building by demolishing two floors and to lower the cross topping the church. Worshippers at the newly built church felt they had no option but to comply with the government’s demands.

“When we finished choosing the site of the church and began construction, [government officials] came and saw that it was over 130 feet tall. They demanded that the building be lowered, so we lowered it by two stories,” the church’s leader, Chen, said.

“There are many, many procedures to go through [to construct a church], and there was too much paperwork,” Chen said. “It needed signatures and seals from local leaders and Party secretaries—nearly 50 of them.”

Persecution against house churches and government-registered churches alike has been heavy in the past year with estimates of affected churches in Zhejiang alone reaching anywhere from more than 300 to 1,000. The demolitions and removals have spread other provinces as well.

China Aid Contacts
Rachel Ritchie, English Media Contact
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