Christianity crackdown: Fury as 250 crosses torn down from churches and pastor threatened

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Authorities in the eastern province of Anhui are cracking down hard on the display of all religious symbols in line with regulations. In the first four months of this year more than 250 crosses were taken down from churches including institutions which have won the approval of the state, reports persecution watchdog Bitter Winter. Religious bodies which have been given permission to operate in China are not exempt from persecution.

The rules which apply to all provinces do not specifically single out Christianity and permit the removal of a symbol of any faith.

International Christian Concern said the policy exists because Beijing feels threatened by the public display of the objects.

The Washington-based monitor said: “These actions are part of China’s plan to ensure stability; authorities are to take down all Christian symbols according to religious regulations.

“These regulations do not specifically target Christian symbols, but any religious symbol, since they are considered a threat to the Chinese Communist Party (CCP).”

Churches which belong to the Three-Self Patriotic Movement are among those which have been targeted.

The Protestant organisation was established in China in 1954.

It assured the government worshippers would remain patriotic to the then-newly established the People’s Republic of China.

Critics have claimed the church gives political leaders a door in which to infiltrate and control much of organised Christianity in China.

Having the approval of the state means the CCP has full authority over the movement.

Members who support the state and comply with regulations still face persecution.

More than 100 Christians at Gulou Church in Fuyang city tried to prevent authorities from taking down a cross on April 2.

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One member said: “Officials did not show any documents, fearing that people would implicate them with anything in writing.

“They only conveyed verbal orders and forced us to obey them.”

And in the city of Lu-an, crosses were taken out of more than 183 churches between January and April 2020.

In March a church leader who contested the rules was threatened with imprisonment.

Authorities also told him that if he did not allow the cross to be removed his church would be closed.

Christians make up about two percent of China’s 1.4 billion population.

Christianity was brought to China in the seventh century but did not take root in society until Jesuit missionaries arrived in the 1500s.

After 1949 China expelled foreign preachers including thousands of British and American Christians.

Around the same time, the communist government brought churches under their control.

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