China Removes Crosses That Are ‘Higher’ Than National Flag from Church Roofs

China’s communist government removed numerous crosses from church rooftops during the country’s coronavirus epidemic under the pretext that religious symbolism cannot be “higher” than the national flag.

Religious Liberty Magazine Bitter Winter reported that in mid-March, crosses were removed from multiple churches in the eastern provinces of Jiangsu and Anhui and in the neighboring Shandong, the prefecture-level city of Linyi.

In February, officials removed a cross from a government-approved Three-Self church in Hexi village. The church was built in 2007 and has complied with state regulations, implementing the four requirements of the government’s religion “sinicization” campaign. Additionally, it had stopped all gatherings during the coronavirus epidemic. Nevertheless, it was not spared in the crackdown.

“The government does not provide enough help during the epidemic but instead demolishes crosses,” a local believer told Bitter Winter.

Last December, at the height of the coronavirus epidemic, numerous crosses were removed from Three-Self churches in Hegang, a prefecture-level city in the northeastern province of Heilongjiang.

A member of a church in the city’s Dongshan district told Bitter Winter that a local official threatened to close down the church if the cross was not removed because “it was higher than the national flag.”

Crosses of Christ Gospel Church and Luobei Christian Church in Hegang’s Luobei county were removed the same month using the same pretext. An employee in the county government explained that the crosses “were too eye-catching,” and they would “attract people into the churches.”

In November, government officials ordered the removal of the cross from the Ranfang Church in Gushi county in the central province of Henan, telling believers that it’s “the Communist Party that gives you food and money, not God.”

That same month, the cross of the Ranfang Church in Gushi county was taken down.

A congregation member said that ahead of the demolition, the government summoned the church director for “ideological work,” and officials from neighboring villages were brought in to maintain order.

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SOURCE: Christian Post, Leah MarieAnn Klett