China has been destroying Christian churches and crosses for a couple years, but Chinese Christians have remained resilient in rebuilding themselves.
Over the past 2 years, China has been harshly cracking down on the Christian and Catholic populations in the Zhejiang Province. According to China Aid, a human rights watch group in Texas, the number of Christians persecuted for their faith has leaped over 10,000% in the last 10 years. From 2013 to 2014, the number of persecutions rose from 143 cases and 7,424 people to 572 cases and 17,884 people. As the days pass by, it seems there is harsher treatment towards those of faith from party-members.
Destruction of Chinese Churches
The destruction of churches in China’s Zhejiang Province has been on-going for some time, yet the Protestants and Catholics have continued to rebuild and restore their symbols. In some areas, evangelicals have replaced their crosses three times in a day. Christian pastors fear a greater crackdown on religion is on the horizon. In December of 2013, Zhejiang officials began knocking down crosses, taking these symbols of faith from over 450 different churches.
A $5,000,000 Sanjiang edifice was demolished shortly after its completion in Wenzhou. One of the largest, government-sanctioned churches, Yanxie, was demolished on June 8th. The destruction and persecution has been almost non-stop for the past 2 years. The Chinese government has justified the destruction of these buildings with the criminal code that deals with “cults and sects using superstition to undermine law enforcement.”
Believers have remained strong and courageous throughout. Leaders in the Chongyi Christian church, based in Hangzhou and with thousands upon thousands of followers, has sent in letters to protest a new policy enacted by the government in May. The policy stated that any crosses on religious buildings had to be removed, resized and set off to the side in the same colors as the buildings walls are. The letter sent by the Chongyi leaders said that the law was unfair and “likely to cause chaos in execution and religious conflicts.”
Pope Francis encourages Catholics all around the world to show “solidarity in prayer” for those suffering persecution and unjust treatment in China. Chinese Catholics have been asking Mary for help, and Francis has said he would like to do the same for them. He went on to invite Italian bishops and others to pray for them as well during the upcoming Pentecost vigil.