Source: Direct Reports from China
Date: May 11, 2018
A Christian church, established about 15 years ago, sits on a mountainside in Meikeng Village, Qiaoxia Town, Yongjia County, Zhejiang Province. In the past, four big shiny golden Chinese characters meaning “Christian Church” were written above the church gate, and a cross stood on the top of the building. Now, the cross is gone, and the two characters meaning “Christ” were painted black.
Bitter Winter has learned what happened to the church in June 2016. Ms. Lin Aimei (pseudonym, more than 60 years old), a Christian from the Charismatic Movement, was having a meeting with several other Christians in the church when three government officials showed up unexpectedly and told them: “The cross represents a foreign faith, foreigners introduced it to China. Chinese people cannot believe in it. So, we have to remove the cross.” They offered the Christians to remove the cross themselves. If they refused to do so, the government would not only remove it, but also dispatch people to destroy three stories of this seven-storied building. They further intimidated the believers, saying: “You cannot believe in Christianity, and you cannot keep the word ‘Christ’ on the wall. If you want to continue with this religion, go to a Three-Self church.”
According to Lin Aimei, to protect the building, in June 2016, the person in charge of the church had to arrange the removal of the cross. Somebody painted black the two characters meaning “Christ.” In 2017, a national flag was raised at the church gate.
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Bitter Winter plans to report on how religions are allowed, or not allowed, to operate in China and how some are severely persecuted after they are labeled as “xie jiao,” or heterodox teachings. We plan to publish news difficult to find elsewhere, analyses, and debates.
Placed under the editorship of Massimo Introvigne, one of the most well-known scholars of religion internationally, “Bitter Winter” is a cooperative enterprise by scholars, human rights activists, and members of religious organizations persecuted in China (some of them have elected, for obvious reasons, to remain anonymous).