The Chinese authorities have been demolishing and shutting down churches, and their reasons for doing that are now becoming increasingly unsound.
Bitter Winter has reported extensively from Henan about the demolitions and shut down of the state-sanctioned Protestant Three-Self churches. This ongoing assault is intensifying rather quickly.
Recently, authorities in Henan’s Luoyang city announced that they would remove crosses from every single church before September 20. Several churches in August had their crosses removed for ingenuous reasons.
The cross of the Zhanmatun Christian Church in Zhengzhou city was removed on the pretense that “it was too high.” Later, the cross was installed onto the church’s exterior wall. One of the believers at the church said, “The cross’s removal was ordered in a document issued by Henan’s government. It was applicable for all levels of government, till the municipal level. It stated that the crosses must not be placed at the top of the church.”
The believers also said that the officials told them to erect a flagpole in church premises and hoist the Chinese national flag on it.
Meanwhile, the cross of a Three-Self church in Luoyang city was removed because the “church is too close to the highway and the cross is too conspicuous.” When the believers of the church protested, the head of the local United Front Work Department, Mr. Hu, told them, “If you don’t remove the cross, the church will be closed permanently.”
In July, the cross of the Xumazhuang Church in Henan’s Xiayi county was covered because the church building was higher than the local government office, and the cross faces forced removal.
In April, officials had removed the cross of a Three-Self church in Gongyi city. The believers opposed the action and told the officials, “Our church has certification and is protected by the law.” However, an official threatened them and said, “This is the country’s unified policy. Crosses on churches throughout China must be removed.” Another official warned the believers that their church would be demolished if they didn’t remove the cross. The believers had no choice but to stand by and watch helplessly.
Reported by Jiang Tao
Jiang Tao (uses pseudonyms for security reasons), aged 42, is from Henan Province. He previously served as a magazine editor and has long been concerned about vulnerable groups that are being persecuted in China. He has written a variety of commentaries probing human rights issues in China, and his articles have been published in international journals. After leaving his magazine job in 2015, he started visiting and interviewing persecuted religious groups and other vulnerable groups and gathering information about incidents. He joined Bitter Winter in 2018, and since then is dedicated to reporting the persecution incidents in Henan, Shanghai, Anhui, and other regions.