For over two years now, CCP implements a comprehensive nationwide campaign to remove religious symbols from places of worship, documented here with exclusive pictures.
by Tang Zhe
In Fenggang township, administered by Shangrao city’s Yugan county, crosses were removed from 11 Three-Self churches on October 15-16. One of the churches had its cross removed in 2018, which the congregation reinstalled, but it was toppled again in October.
The cross on a Three-Self church in Ganzhou city’s Dingnan county was ordered to be removed because local officials deemed it “taller than the national flag,” but the church director refused. A week later, the cross was knocked down for “safety concerns.”
“If we did not do as told, our church would be closed down,” a church member said in tears. “We did not dare to disobey the government.”
During an inspection of the Tandong Church in Ganzhou in August, officials proclaimed that a small cross atop it was “too eye-catching.” They ordered to remove it and the sign “Salvation Church” from the outside wall.
In July, local officials ordered to demolish the two crosses on a Three-Self church in Xinfeng’s Xiaohe town. Local officials failed to remove one of them because of the congregation’s protests but managed to saw it off a week later after lying to the churchgoers that the old cross would be replaced with a new one.
Crosses were removed from many Three-Self churches in Yichun, Fuzhou, and Ruijin cities.
The Gaohuang Three-Self Church in Huainan city’s Panji district lost its cross on July 10. Congregants took turns guarding the cross for over two months, but police officers dispersed them and shut the church gate on that fateful day.
A Three-Self church in Hefei city had its cross removed on January 2. Local officials entered the church on the pretext of inspecting it and locked the congregation members guarding it in a small room. They were only released after the cross was taken down. A church member recalled that the congregation managed to protect the cross for a month and a half. “When they toppled it, officials told us that crosses are being removed so that people won’t be able to find churches,” the believer said.
In July, officials ordered to remove the cross from a Three-Self church in Jining city’s Jinxiang county because “it was too tall.” The congregation agreed to the removal because government representatives promised to install a smaller cross. The promise was never kept, and the church continues to be heavily monitored to ensure that no new cross is installed.
The Yilu Three-Self Church in Tieling county in the northeastern province of Liaoning was banned from reopening after the coronavirus restrictions had been lifted because its “cross was taller than the national flag,” according to local officials. To resume gatherings, the congregation had no choice but to remove the cross in September.
On July 15, the Ci county government in Handan city in the northern province of Hebei removed crosses from the Qifu village Three-Self church. More than a dozen church members rushed to the venue after learning the news and watched the cross being removed, silently praying in tears.
“Government officials told us to raise high the national flag instead of the cross,” a church member told Bitter Winter.