As government authorities continue their campaign to eradicate religion from China, religious symbols are removed.
One by one, the crosses from churches across Xiayi county in central China’s Henan Province, have been systematically removed. It has taken a year so far, but the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) almost proved itself successful in removing all of them.
Virtually all government-sanctioned places of worship of the Three-Self Church, in every county and town under the jurisdiction of Henan Province’s Shangqiu city, are also without their religious symbols and, for the crosses that remain, their time is soon coming.
Shortly after New Year’s Day 2019, the government of Xiayi county, in Shangqiu city, dispatched more than 100 persons to forcibly remove the cross from Wangzhai Church in Huodian town’s Wangzhai village. The church’s gate and perimeter wall were also torn down. This was the last remaining cross to be dismantled in the county, a local official said.
Wangzhai Church, which belongs to the Three-Self Church, was constructed with funding provided by a Christian couple. To date, the couple still owes hundreds of thousands of RMB in debt from building the church.
Demolition began on January 4, eyewitnesses said, when a crane, two bulldozers came in and dozens of cars blocked off access to the church. Because everything was happening so quickly, the gate to the church yard was still locked—so, naturally, government officials tore that down, too. Then they dismantled the cross.
“The process of removing the cross was extremely savage. At first, the crane attempted several times to pull it off, but it wouldn’t budge, so the crane forcibly dragged it backwards. The church building even swayed a bit. Afterwards, the cross was forcibly dragged down onto the roof,” said one eyewitness.
That wasn’t the end of it.
“They also dismantled two small crosses on the left and right side of the church roof as well as twelve small crosses on the perimeter wall. Even the three loudspeakers on the roof were not spared. Ultimately, even the church’s donation box and pictures of the cross, among other items, were hauled away in vehicles. Immediately after that, government officials ordered demolition workers to tear down sections of the perimeter wall spanning dozens of meters in length on both the east and west side of the church. The entire process took about one hour.”
At the time, about 20 or more villagers stood and watched what was happening, but didn’t dare confront the government officials.
“At the time, it was like the scene of a battle; I think if anyone dared to say ‘no,’ they would have been arrested and taken away,” one eyewitness told Bitter Winter.
According to a Three-Self pastor who requested anonymity, in the entire Xiayi county, all crosses that are clearly visible from the outside have already been removed, except one.