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article imageBeijing government cracks down on Christian churches

By Karen Graham     Jul 28, 2014 in World
Wenzhou - The eastern city of Wenzhou, Zhejiang province, China is sometimes called "China's Jerusalem" because of the number of houses of worship. On Monday, hundreds of police came to the Longgang Huai En Church and used a crane to take down its cross.
In an apparent attempt to contain the growth of China's fastest growing religion, Christianity, authorities in Beijing have started a demolition campaign against public displays of the Christian faith, toppling crosses from church steeples in Zhejiang province.
While there have been other confrontations with provincial security forces, on Monday, congregants stood by peacefully as a crane and blow-torch were used to remove the 10-foot red cross from atop the church steeple. “We didn’t want to get in a fight with them, but obviously what they did was illegal,” said the Rev. Qu Linuo, a pastor from a nearby church.
On Friday, the Wenling Church in the city of Taizhou was targeted, with 4,000 police officers descending on the church and removing two crosses from atop the building. One witness said at least 40 people were detained.
Authorities are using building code regulations, possibly made up as they go along, to issue demolition notices, or tell churches their steeples are too high. Many people think the government is using this ruse to avoid international attention. The crackdown started in early spring of this year with authorities in the coastal province issuing demolition notices to 130 churches, saying they have violated zoning restrictions. Most of the churches had been "state-approved" when built, as opposed to so-called underground congregations.
It seems the crackdown is limited to Zhejiang, considered one of the country's wealthiest provinces, and the destruction has of late been focused on church steeples and crosses. But church leaders believe they are seeing the discomfort of the government in Beijing at how fast Christianity is growing in China. According to FoxNews.com, a Pew Research Center poll in 2011 showed there were 58 million Protestants and 9 million Catholics in state-sanctioned churches. Some experts put the number of Christians at closer to 100 million, including those congregations meeting in secrecy, making religion more popular than the Communist party.
More about Religion, China, China's Jerusalem, Crackdown, Rapid growth
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