Chinese Government Forces Christians to Choose Between Demolishing the Cross or Church Building

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Chinese Government Relentless in Anti-Christian Campaign  in Zhejiang Province

Forces Christians to Choose Between Demolishing the Cross or Church Building

06/17/2014 Washington, D.C. (International Christian Concern)– One week after Chinese Christians in Wenzhou City, known as the “Jerusalem of the East”, pushed back against government attempts to forcibly remove the cross from the roof of GuanTou Church, local authorities returned and completely destroyed the cross on June 17th, 2014. The Chinese government constantly harassed church leaders, threatening to tear down the church building if they insisted on keeping the cross. “Government officials tried to cause division among church leaders, local believers told International Christian Concern (ICC). “They forced them to choose between removing the cross and tearing down the entire church.

On Tuesday at 3:00 a.m., a team of around 30 people, including government officials and construction workers, arrived at GuanTou Church for the second time and cut the cross off from the roof of the church building. “How can you separate the cross from a church?” A local pastor asked in a recent interview. “Can you choose between a national flag and embassy building? It is completely humiliating and violating the freedom of belief.

Christians in Wenzhou City are frustrated and heartbroken as they watch what they say is the governments “obvious scheme” to curb Christianity and their freedom of religion. The current battleground is places of worship and the crosses that adorn them. ICC received a list of 15 churches that have received cross demolition notices from authorities just last Sunday. ChinaAid reports that around 360 church buildings and crosses have been demolished in 2014 alone.

In addition, the Chinese government not only removes crosses in attempts to curb Christianity, but changes the names of many churches into senior housings or cultural centers, according to ChinaAid. Before Sanjiang Christian Church, the nearby 4,000-seat mega church, was completely demolished on April 28th, the government proposed a plan, “to remove the cross on the roof and change the first floor of the church to be a public parking lot, the second floor a public library, only leaving the third floor for worship,” according to ICC’s local contact.

ICC’s Regional Manager for Southeast Asia, Sooyoung Kim, said, “It is crystal clear that local and provincial authorities in Zhejiang Province have carefully planned and carried out their consistent and methodical attack against Christianity and churches. We call on the Chinese central government to clearly express its stance on this massive anti-Christian campaign. Their silence implies either tolerance or complicity in this massive attack against the religious rights of Chinese citizens.

For interviews, please contact Sooyoung Kim, Regional Manager for Southeast Asia rm-seasia@persecution.org

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