03/07/2019 China (International Christian Concern) – The pastor and three staff from Zhongxin Church in Xinxiang County, Henan, were criminally detained by local authorities on February 20, after having firmly resisted the cross removal from their church.
According to China Aid, the four Christians– Wu Raoyun, Bai Yun, Ma Yanfang, as well as Pastor Li Juncai— are all members from Zhongxin Church. Their church was once part of the Three-self state-sanctioned church, until it withdrew the affiliation in 2013. More than 700 people regularly worship here.
Last year, the Henan government began removal of crosses across the province, and Pastor Li repeatedly refused to allow the officials to destroy his church’s cross. His son Li Chao confirmed with Radio Free Asia that his father was charged with “disrupting public service,” although he only prevented the government from removing the cross twice or three times.
Few days after Li was detained, local authorities mobilized various departments, including United Front Work, Religious Bureau, riot police, and workers to forcibly remove the cross on February 24. They pushed out the Christians who were guarding the church, including elderly.
“They hit people! The law enforcement hit people and drove the elderly away. They forcibly destroyed the lock and opened the gate. They are just like bandits […],” said a person who was videotaping the action. The workers also installed a pole in order to fly the national flag in the church compound.
Beijing’s increasing crackdown on Christianity was especially evident in Henan province, with estimated 4000 churches having their crosses removed and some churches demolished. Both house churches and state-sanctioned churches fell victims to the Sinicization of religion campaign, where the Communist Party ideology has to be exalted higher than theology.
For interviews with Gina Goh, ICC’s Regional Manager, please contact Olivia Miller, Communications Coordinator: [email protected]