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ICC Note: Two churches located in the coastal province of Zhejiang, China, have had the crosses atop their buildings forcibly removed after authorities decided they were too “conspicuous.” The pastor of one of the churches said he had no input in the decision and that local authorities simply showed up with cranes to demolish the cross atop his church. Both churches effected belong to the official government controlled Three-Self Patriotic Movement. Persecution of these churches is rare unless the congregations or pastor step outside of strict guidelines mandated by the Communist Party. Millions of Christians in China choose to worship outside of these legal churches in unregistered “house churches” despite the risk of arrest. 
3/3/2014 China (ChinaAid) – At least two Three-Self Patriotic Movement churches in China’s coastal Zhejiang province had the crosses that top their church buildings forcibly removed on Thursday because the Christian symbol was deemed “too conspicuous.”
The cross topping a government-sanctioned church in the Yuhang Disctict of Hangzhou, the provincial capital, was forcibly removed on Thursday morning by more than 200 people from the local government.
“We didn’t agree [with the removal]. Without consulting us in the Chinese Christian Congress and the Three-Self Patriotic Movement, they went directly to the church today, and in a little over 20 minutes, they demolished the cross. Now they have put a smaller cross on the wall,” Sheng, the church’s pastor, who only gave his surname, said.
“They said the cross is too conspicuous, and it should be moved inside the church building and should shrink in size,” Sheng said. “He said this is rectification ‘according to the authorities.’ We think this is unnecessary. It was fine for the cross to stand there. Why should they rectify it?”
The pastor told ChinaAid that two similar incidents occurred elsewhere in the province on Thursday morning as well.
This persecution against a Three-Self church is unusual. Three-Self churches, which are churches that have registered with the government’s Three-Self Patriotic Movement Committee, are typically left alone as long as they follow the predetermined doctrine, which promotes self-government, self-support and self-propagation.
However, recent cases have shown that the government is willing to persecute Three-Self churches when those churches defend marginalized groups, preach the true Gospel of Jesus Christ, proselytize outside of their region or communicate with overseas contacts. One such case is that of the Nanle County Christian Church in China’s central Henan, in which the pastor of the church and more than 20 church members were arbitrarily detained.

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