Amid the CCP’s nationwide cross removal campaign, a state-run and a house church in a Zhejiang Province village were attacked by government-hired security guards.
by Zhao Mingzhe
A little past 4 a.m. on July 7, officials from Yongjia county government in Zhejiang Province’s Wenzhou city lead over 100 personnel to Yongfu village to remove crosses from two churches. Eyewitnesses reported that most of the demolition personnel wore uniforms of a private security company.
A member of the state-run church, which was attacked first, told Bitter Winter that the officials cut the lock on the church door to get inside. After hearing the news, believers immediately rushed to the church to protect its cross. A congregant in his 80s stepped in front of the guards, but they pushed him down, injuring the old man’s arm. Other church members were also attacked and beaten.
According to local believers, the church cross escaped removal during the crackdowns on Zhejiang churches in 2014 and 2015, when more than 1,700 crosses were removed in the province, only because the congregation managed to protect it. This time, however, they couldn’t save it: it was toppled at 6:30 that morning, as security guards banned the congregation from filming the scene.
Soon after, the church director and preacher made a wooden cross to replace the removed one but were reported to the authorities, who threatened to demolish the church if a new cross appeared.
“They demolished the cross in secret, when we were off guard,” a congregation member commented. “They act like a gang of bandits.”
After the Three-Self church, the same security guards were sent to remove the cross from a house church in the village. In an attempt to save it, believers locked all entrances to the church, but this did not stop the attackers.
“They pried the three locks with a steel saw and an iron hammer, driving us from the church,” a congregation member recalled. He added that the guards blocked all passages to the church to prevent anyone from entering. They then climbed up to the roof and knocked down the cross.
“The Communist Party uses violence to suppress us and demolish our symbols only because they fear that Christianity poses a threat to its regime,” another believer added. “They can never remove the cross from our hearts.”
As Radio Free Asia reported in its July 8 piece, the police monitored mobile phones and the internet in the village that day. “I can’t accept an interview because my cell phone is being monitored. I can’t make irresponsible remarks,” a local believer is quoted as saying.
Massive cross demolition campaigns are sweeping throughout China. From January to April, crosses were removed from at least 250 Three-Self churches in Lu’an, Ma’anshan, Huaibei, and other cities in the eastern province of Anhui. Numerous crosses have been removed from churches in Shangrao, Nanchang, and other cities in the southeastern province of Jiangxi.
In Linyi, the largest prefecture-level city in the eastern province of Shandong, crosses were removed from at least 70 churches from March last year to this January, and the campaign continued amid the coronavirus outbreak.