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Home » Christianity » China: Christians scramble to save churches, crosses – CNN.com

China: Christians scramble to save churches, crosses – CNN.com

 

Wenzhou, China (CNN) — At a gray church on the outskirts of Wenzhou in eastern China, Christians from across the county keep a nervous watch.

Some stand behind the iron gate; others sit just inside the church door. For more than two months they’ve waited, preparing themselves to protect the cross on top of their church.

“If I have to, I am going to hold it in my arms and protect it,” one elderly man says. “They have no right to tear it down, that is why we have to defend our church.”

 China blacks out CNN’s report

Like many here, it’s too risky for him to give his name.

Wenzhou is known as the “Jerusalem of China” and throughout this year the local Communist Party authorities have demolished scores of churches and forcibly removed more than 300 church crosses.

Chinese church leaders say it’s the worst anti-Christian crackdown in decades.

“What the government here is doing is so barbaric, they’re like bandits and we are furious with them,” says Chen Zhi’ai, a respected church leader in the Wenzhou area. “Today we’ve seen the fundamental symbol of our faith violated and it hurts us deep inside our hearts.”

The local authorities are mostly targeting state-sanctioned churches, long tolerated by the ruling Communist Party and often touted as a sign of religious freedom in the officially atheist country.

Scores have been injured in the crackdown, as congregations throughout the region try to stop the government teams.

In late July, hundreds of police tried to storm the gates of the Salvation Church in Pingyang County in Wenzhou.

Like other attempted demolitions, they moved in in the middle of the night, and scenes of extraordinary defiance unfolded on the church’s CCTV video as club-wielding police beat their way in.

They appear to lose their resolve when an older man is rushed away by ambulance. A blow to the head fractured his skull, say church activists.

They wanted to drag it away…but we refused

Church caretaker

But several weeks later, they came back with reinforcements and tore down the cross. It now lies under a cheap plastic shroud at the foot of the church’s stairs.

“They wanted to drag it away,” says a church caretaker who wouldn’t give his name. “But we refused. Now it is too big for us to move.”

Illegal structures?

 

The local government denies the crackdown on Christianity. They say the demolitions are part of a broader campaign to target illegal structures in the province. They say church demolitions represent only a tiny fraction of their work.

 

 

China: Christians scramble to save churches, crosses – CNN.com.

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