After a month of guarding the temple, residents of a village in Jiangxi’s Nanfeng county see it turned into ruins, as officials wage war against folk religions.
by Tang Zhe
Indigenous folk religions are deeply rooted in China’s rural communities and have thrived for generations, but under President Xi Jinping’s rule, they are being purged and suppressed nationwide.
Fuzhu temples are a type of ancestral places of worship that people build to pay tribute to sages or pray for their blessings. These temples, which are passed along from generation to generation, are where the local people place their devout faith.
On May 18, the Nanfeng county government issued a notice demanding nine Fuzhu temples in the county to demolish their buildings before May 30. The reason they gave was that it was needed for “urban and rural planning.”
A Fuzhu temple in Chaoxian village was on the list. To protect it from being demolished, starting in late June, six local women took turns guarding the temple day and night. Because of countless mosquitoes appearing in hot summer months, the women were bitten hard and could not sleep a wink throughout the night. But they didn’t give up and continued to watch over the ancestral temple, attempting to protect their faith.
In the early hours of August 10, the villagers who had been guarding the temple for more than a month learned that government personnel would be sent to the temple at 4:00 a.m. to demolish it.
Village residents rushed to protect the temple. In response, the government dispatched over 300 personnel, including special police and urban management officers, to prevent people from approaching the temple.
Government personnel drive out villagers guarding the temple at 4:00 a.m. :
A woman wanted to get something she had left in the temple but was held back by the police. She angrily expressed her discontent and was immediately arrested by four officers and forcibly lifted into a police car. Another villager was also taken away by eight officers for criticizing the police’s violent behavior.
At 5:00 a.m., officials directed an excavator to start demolishing the ancestral temple. Before long, the Fuzhu temple was turned into a pile of ruins. Heartbroken, villagers watched as the temple that they had guarded for over a month was destroyed.
The process of Fuzhu temple being forcibly demolished:
“If the government wants you to be round, you have to be round; if they want you to be flat, you have to be flat,” an elderly woman said in tears while looking at the demolished temple. “There is nothing the common people can do about it. An egg cannot break a rock. Anyone who tries to obstruct the government will be arrested.”
According to villagers, the Fuzhu temple originally covered an area of 400 square meters. The government previously expropriated all of the village’s land and sold it to developers under the pretext of “urban expansion,” forcing the Fuzhu temple to relocate three times. In 2015, the temple was moved for the last time with the approval of the county government and was rebuilt on the designated reconstruction site, making it a legal temple.