By Stefan J. Bos, Special Correspondent Worthy News
(Worthy News) - Christians in eastern China were recovering of their injuries Thursday after trying to prevent the removal of crosses from churches by Chinese government forces.
The confrontation began July 7 when as many as 100 security personnel approached two churches in Wenzhou city, rights investigators told Worthy News.
Backed by cranes, they took away crosses from atop the Aodi Christian Church and Yinchang Christian Church in Wenzhou in China’s Zhejiang province, local believers confirmed.
In a statement, Reverend Francis Liu from the Chinese Christian Fellowship of Righteousness group said security forces “destroyed church property and damaged many locks.”
He added that during the “government ambush,” they also “clashed” with Christians who protested against them. An older man in his 80s was pushed to the ground, he added.
OTHERS ALSO INJURED
Other church members trying to intervene were also physically assaulted, resulting in several injuries, according to Christians familiar with the situation. No more details were immediately available.
Liu noted that local Christians fear the July 7 events were the start of another massive wave of cross removals initiated by China’s atheist Communist leadership.
“The demolition orders are representative of many similar state-sanctioned operations,” confirmed advocacy group Voice Of the Martyrs Canada (VOMC) to Worthy News.
“In the state of Anhui, crosses were removed from at least 250 government-approved churches during the first four months of 2020 alone,” added VOMC.
It quoted a state official as saying that “All Christian symbols are ordered to be removed.” Similar action is also taken against symbols of other religions, explained VOMC, which investigated reports of persecution in China.
WORST IN DECADES
“The ongoing crackdown against Christians in China has been described as the most intense in decades,” the group added.
Church leaders have linked the reported anti-Christian measures to the perceived authoritarian policies of President Xi Jinping.
He has led an unrelenting campaign against devoted Christians and unofficial churches in China, which by some estimates, serve at least tens of millions of believers.
Communist officials have, in recent years, suggested there may be as many as 130 million devoted Christians in China.
Chinese authorities have denied wrongdoing. They make clear that Churches in China must register with the government and join the Three-Self Patriotic Movement or the Chinese Patriotic Catholic Association. However, even these state-approved denominations face severe restrictions, and therefore millions of Christians worship in illegal underground house churches or other houses worship.
CHINA PARTY CONTROL
President Xi and other officials are reportedly concerned that independent worship might pose a threat to the ruling Communist Party’s dominance over daily life in China.
In recent years Xi has sought to bring Christianity more firmly under the party’s control, according to several sources familiar with his thinking.
Since 2018, the government burned crosses, banned online sales of the Bible, demolished churches and forced several places of worship to close, Worthy News learned.
Xi, the most powerful Chinese leader since Mao Zedong, is also trying to control religious groups such as Muslims.
Thousands of Muslims are known to be detained in camps in the western region of Xinjiang, several rights investigators and Western leaders say.