The CCP intensifies efforts to eradicate Buddhist and Taoist temples using various pretexts to cover up its true intentions—to suppress people of faith.
by Tang Zhe
On October 20, the government of Pingxiang city’s Shangli county in the southeastern province of Jiangxi demolished the Wulong Temple, a Taoist venue spanning over one thousand years of history, on the pretext of “widening a road and rejuvenating the environment.” But according to a local source, the temple, located downtown, was not close to any roads foreseen to be widened or spaces allocated for urban greening.
The county’s demolition and relocation authorities informed the Wulong Temple director in early October that the temple had to be destroyed because it negatively affected the area’s image. Distressed by the news, the director was taken to the hospital to treat an acute rise in blood pressure. The temple was soon destroyed, and a parking lot was built in its place.
The Baoyue Temple in Xinfeng county’s Da’a town, administered by Ganzhou city, was established during the Jin dynasty (266 – 420) and was popular with local Buddhists. On July 8, over 30 town government officials and urban management personnel forced the temple door to get inside, removed all Buddhist statues, and destroyed the temple. The octogenarian temple director fainted from stress and was taken to the hospital.
“I spent all my energy and effort on the temple for years,” lamented the temple director who has served it for 31 years. “So much money spent on it has been wasted.” The temple’s eight rooms were adorned with Bodhisattva statues created with worshippers’ donations. To get the director’s consent for the demolition, local officials told him that only the temple’s kitchen would be destroyed.
“The government doesn’t want religions to exist and demolishes places of worship as they please, detaining anyone who resists,” a Buddhist from Da’a town said.
The Lianhuayuan Temple, a large Buddhist temple built in 2014 in Zhengzhou, the capital of the central province of Henan, had four big halls where over 60 lay Buddhists worshiped regularly. On July 3, four Religious Affairs Bureau officials came to the temple and ordered all Buddhists living in the temple’s residential house to move out because the venue was to be demolished. The official reason for the demolition was that the nearby river “needed to be widened to prevent floods.”
Three months later, the temple and the house were destroyed, while the two venues used for leisure near the temple were spared demolition.
“We can do nothing against the government’s orders,” a temple master said in grief. “The temple is my home. I feel disheartened.”
Five HD surveillance cameras were installed in the temple in April 2018 to monitor if religious activities were held there. Plainclothes police officers also frequently investigate the temple.
“Since the new Regulations on Religious Affairs came into force in 2018, the government started implementing even more draconian control of religions,” the master added. “Officials repeatedly summoned the temple’s masters to study religious policies and came to the temple to talk to us. Masters had no time to meditate and chant scriptures because of these frequent meetings. This was against our Buddhist practices. All the masters left to be spared these secular interferences.”