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China: Crosses Now Toppled from Over 900 Churches in Anhui Province

Persecution of Christians in China: On June 11, reported that Chinese authorities had removed 250 crosses from churches in Anhui province. Now that number has exceeded 900. As we have reported here for quite some time, the Chinese government is in the midst of an all-out campaign to turn Christianity into a weak religion that is entirely subservient to the Chinese Communist Party, and that doesn’t teach anything that would lead Chinese people away from Communist Party dogma. “Teachers are required to indoctrinate children with patriotic ideology, make them believe and praise the Party,” and that ideology is regarded as incompatible with Christianity.

This is a matter of grave concern for Orthodox Christians in China and all other Christians as well. Holy Orthodoxy in China predates this war on Christianity. It has a three-hundred year history in China, with the first Orthodox Christians coming into the country in 1685. In the 1980s, the Chinese Orthodox Church began to experience a revival. If crosses can be removed from Three-Self churches, they can be removed from Orthodox churches as well.

The Order of Saint Andrew, Archons of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, requests once again that the Chinese government end these repressive measures, grant official recognition to the Chinese Orthodox Church, and give full religious freedom to all the Christians of that nation.

For previous coverage of the persecution of Christians in China, see here.

“Crosses Toppled from Over 900 Three-Self Churches in Anhui,” by Lu An, Bitter Winter, August 22, 2020:

Bitter Winter reported on June 9 that crosses had been removed from over 250 state-run Three-Self churches in the eastern province of Anhui in the first four months of the year. According to the newly received information, an additional 656 state-run Protestant venues in the province had lost their crosses during the first half of this year, the total exceeding 900.

Anhui has the second-largest Christian population in China, concentrated in the prefecture-level cities of Lu’an, Fuyang, Suzhou, and Chuzhou. Naturally, these cities have been severely affected by the forced removal of crosses. According to the latest numbers, from January to July, crosses have been removed from 271 Three-Self churches in Lu’an, 168 in Fuyang, 106 in Suzhou, and 98 in Chuzhou. Besides, crosses were toppled from 266 Protestant venues in Bengbu, Huainan, Ma’anshan, and Hefei cities.

In April, the Religious Affairs Bureau of Fuyang-administered Taihe county ordered to remove the cross from one of the Three-Self churches and threatened to close it down if the congregation disobeyed.

“The cross is a church symbol, and if it is removed, who could distinguish it from other buildings?” a church member commented.

A Three-Self church in the city’s Yingdong district, which can accommodate gatherings of 1,000 believers, lost its cross also in April. Officials informed the congregation that the cross- demolition campaign was part of national policy.

“If a church refuses to remove its cross, congregation members may lose their social benefits, like pensions and poverty-alleviation subsidies, and possibilities for their children’s future employment will be affected,” a church member explained.

On April 28, workers removed the Hancheng Church cross in Hanshan county, administered by the prefecture-level city of Ma’anshan. The head of the local United Front Work Department supervised the proceedings.

“United Front Work Department officials said that all crosses taller than government buildings must be demolished because they overshadow state institutions,” a church member told Bitter Winter. “Only churches that look like enterprises are considered legal. To ‘sinicize’ Christianity, Xi Jinping does not allow churches to have Western crosses.”…

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