Several crosses are forcibly removed from churches in China despite these being approved by the state, reports say.
According to the International Christian Concern (ICC), crosses from the Three-Self churches in Wenzhou, China particularly the Zheijang province were forcibly removed even if the churches were sanctioned by the state.
Father Francis Liu, leader of the Chinese Christian Fellowship of Righteousness, shared that on Saturday, Jan. 16, local authorities forcibly removed the cross of Yongzhong Street Canghe Church in the city of Wenzhou.
The church then filed a police report to the Public Security Bureau located in Wenzhou's Longwan District. In an official statement, the bureau responded that the "stolen cross" that the church claims does not fall under their jurisdiction. Hence, the filed report will not be processed by the authorities.
Aside from the Yongzhong Street Canghe Church, Yongzhong Christian Church, another Three-Self church had its cross taken down by local authorities in the city.
It was not the first time that church crosses in Wenzhou are forcibly removed by local Chinese officials.
In September last year, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) tried to overwhelm and overpower Christian believers by forcibly removing crosses from Three-Self churches, Bitter Winter reported.
Even worse, churches suffer from constant pressure from local authorities that even their businesses are threatened if they will not obey the orders of the communist government in China.
One such church was the Huai'en Church in Longgang, a Protestant church approved by the country. However, the church among other two more Three-Self churches got their crosses removed last year on July 7.
For churches who suffered from having their crosses removed, building and re-installing the symbol of their faith was not easy. In 2014, Huai'en Church lost its cross symbol for the first time following the CCP's campaign. It took the church another three years before re-installing a new cross as a symbol of their Christian faith only to have it removed again a year later.
In an interview, one of the members of the congregation revealed that officials threaten "to shut the church down" if they disobeyed regarding the forced removal of crosses in the Longgang county.
"Since last September, the Longgang city government repeatedly exerted pressure on the church, demanding us to do away with the cross ourselves."
As one of the church members revealed, government officials themselves "don't want to get into trouble if the news about forced removals were reported overseas, especially amid the pandemic" which is why "the government uses various pretexts to pressure those in charge of places of worship to topple religious symbols themselves."
Apparently, one of the highest populations of Christians in China is in Wenzhou. The city was dubbed "China's Jerusalem" because of the large number of believers living in the city and most businesses there are owned by people of Christian faith.
However, the Zheijiang government initiated a campaign of removing crosses in churches between 2013 to 2014. To date, local governments have removed thousands of crosses from churches found in Wenzhou and other nearby cities.
An elderly believer shared, "Because Christianity came to China from abroad, they fear it poses a threat to their regime, and that is why they demonstrate their power. Churches have always been persecuted in China. Even Three-Self churches can't escape persecution."