Chinese persecution continues into the afterlife, as authorities remove crosses and crescent moons from tombstones.
The purging of religious symbols by Chinese authorities has now expanded to the removal of crosses and crescent moons from cemeteries and tombstones. What is a common and often overlooked scene in other countries – crosses adorning graves and church grounds – could be the cause of government persecution in China.
Mr. Wang hails from a town in Gongyi city, in China’s central province of Henan. He told Bitter Winter that in April of last year, while he was still grieving from the loss of his wife, he received a call from the village party secretary. The secretary said that the government was cracking down on religious beliefs, and that he must tear down the Christian couplet (two-line religious poetry) banners in his home, and destroy the red cross on his wife’s tomb.
Mr. Wang’s wife had been a Christian for nearly 30 years, and he knew what the cross meant to her. But he felt helpless in the face of the government’s order. “When the government tells you to do something, who dares resist?”
A Christian who died five years ago is not being allowed to rest in peace either. Ms. Liu Yun of Anyang city, in Henan Province, received a phone call from an official from her village in April 2018. The official demanded that she return to her home from out of town and dismantle the 160-centimeter-tall cross on her husband’s tomb.
The relatives of another Christian, Wang Yong, from Anyang city received a warning from the local village officials for using paper crosses in Wang Yong’s funeral service. A similar warning was issued to the family of a deceased Christian in Henan’s Ruzhou city as well.
Far away from these Christian grave sites, in Weili county in the Bayingolin Mongol autonomous prefecture of Xinjiang, authorities have ordered local Muslims to take down the crescent moon symbols on their family members’ tombs.
This effort to strip religious symbols from graves is only one facet of a broad campaign to purge religious iconography — from crosses on church buildings, religious symbols, and posters in people’s homes, to names with religious connotations on shop signs and fishing boats. According to calculations, last year in Henan’s Xinxiang city, the government seized over 20,000 pairs of religious couplet banners, tore down crosses and other building attachments at over 300 locations, and shut down one merchant selling religious ceramic tiles.
Normal religious activities are also being controlled in increasingly stringent ways. Bitter Winter has already reported on multiple cases of government interference in Christian and Muslim funerals.
(All names used in the article are pseudonyms.)
Reported by Li Pei