China removes over 900 church crosses in first half of 2020
Crosses were removed from over 250 state-run Three-Self churches in the eastern province of Anhui, which has the second-largest Christian population in China, in the first four months of the year. Additionally, 656 state-run Protestant churches in the province saw their crosses removed during the first half of this year.
In the first half of 2020, over 900 crosses were removed from state-run churches across China on places of worship, according to the Italian-based religious liberty magazine, Bitter Winter.
A ‘Three-Self’ church in the city’s Yingdong district, which lost its cross in April, was told by authorities that the cross-demolition campaign was part of national policy.
“If a church refuses to remove its cross, congregation members may lose their social benefits, like pensions and poverty-alleviation subsidies, and possibilities for their children’s future employment will be affected,” a church member claimed.
United Front Work Department officials who removed the cross from a church in Hanshan county informed church congregants that any crosses taller than government buildings “must be demolished because they overshadow state institutions,” a church member told Bitter Winter.
The believer also revealed that government officials warned an elder in the church that “protesting cross demolitions means protesting against the government.”
China’s crackdown on religion and religious minorities has been widely condemned by international actors such as the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, rights groups, and the U.S. State Department.
In its 2020 annual report, USCIRF noted that not only have authorities removed crosses from churches across the nation, but they have also banned youth younger than 18 from participating in religious services and removed images of Jesus Christ or the Virgin Mary.
China has also been labeled by the U.S. State Department as a “country of particular concern” for “continuing to engage in particularly severe violations of religious freedom.”
China ranks as the 23rd-worst nation in the world when it comes to Christian persecution, according to Open Doors USA’s 2020 World Watch List.
Pictures and source: bitterwinter.org