Communist Party in Zhejiang rejects claims of campaign against Protestant churches but one official describes Christianity’s growth as ‘excessive’
Communist officials in China have denied waging a “demolition campaign” against churches in the country’s most Christian regions, after reportedly ordering a dozen to be destroyed.
The churches – in the eastern province of Zhejiang – are currently facing demolition or having their crosses removed, activists claim. Other churches are said to have been ordered to make themselves “less conspicuous” by turning their lights off at night.
Local preachers accuse Party officials in Zhejiang, a wealthy coastal province, of “gross interference” in Church affairs and have urged them to abandon what they believe is an orchestrated campaign.
Last week, Christians flocked to the Sanjiang church in Wenzhou – a rich port city known as the “Jerusalem of the East” because of its large Christian community – after its demolition was announced.
Officials denied launching a church demolition movement.
However, in a recent speech the provincial official in charge of religious affairs hinted at Communist Party discomfort at how fast congregations were growing in what is already considered China’s most Christian region. More than one million of Wenzhou’s nine million residents are thought to be practicing Protestants, according to some estimates.
Feng Zhili, the chairman of Zhejiang’s ethnic and religious affairs committee, said Christianity’s growth had been “too excessive and too haphazard”.
SOURCE: Tom Phillips