World Bulletin / News Desk
China's growing Christian community opposes Chinese government's plan of removing crosses from churchesin a wealthy coastal province.
The campaign started with accusing a church of violating zoning restrictions on height and size. Later the campaign was broadened to include crosses atop buildings. Local church members now say they have been told that free-standing crucifixes are being taken down from all Protestant and Roman Catholic churches across Zhejiang Province.
That has caused sometimes spectacular protests, with believers climbing spires to shield the crosses, as well as creative efforts to bypass the regulations. Some congregations have been building small crosses to hang outside the windows of members’ homes or from their car mirrors.
More surprising has been the growing boldness of government-approved churches. About half of the estimated 60 million Christians in China attend churches approved by the government. Last year, two prominent theologians at government seminaries spoke out against the campaign. Now, two public appeals have added to the opposition.
The government, local Christians said in an open letter, “has stopped using the pretext of ‘demolishing illegal structures’ and is rushing to take down the crosses of every single church.”
As Chinese citizens, we yearn for deeper and more comprehensive democracy and the rule of law,” they continued.
1,200 crosses had been removed over the past year and a half. “It completely violates the Party’s and the nation’s ideology and spirit of ruling the country according to laws, and ruling the country according to the constitution,” said the letter.
With regard to the question whether China’s top leader, President Xi Jinping supports the campaing, and whether it will therefore spread, the government drive fit into the overall context of a crackdown on civil liberties that has increased since Mr. Xi took power in 2012.
“Along with the other limits on all of civil society, it’s in line with the new Xi Jinping approach,” Professor Vala said.
Mr. Xi was the head of Zhejiang, and the current party secretary there served under him. Other provinces with big Christian populations have not begun similar crackdowns.
There were some indications over the weekend that the campaign might be slowing, with members of a congregation in Cangnan County south of Wenzhou saying their parish had received a notice that the campaign would stop.
Güncelleme Tarihi: 11 Ağustos 2015, 10:57