China continues to tear down Christian churches

In its "Three Rectification and One Demolition" beautification campaign where church buildings or crosses are most often deemed as illegally constructed, China adds one more in its growing list of demolished Christian churches.

Zhuanghe City Xinhua Christian Church, Dalian, Liaoning, China | Creative Commons/Yoshi Canopus

According to China Aid, authorities demolished the three-story church building Island Head Christians Church in Wenzhou, Zhejiang on April 13 because the cross was constructed too high. Authorities insisted this was in violation of the communist country's policy on buildings which means it was illegally constructed. Church leaders and members only relented after persistent threats. A church attendant estimated that the value of the building was about 3 million Yuan ($460,000).

According to reports, the country has already demolished more than 2,000 church crosses in Zhejiang province alone. Last March, 50 of these churches were taken down from Wenzhou. These demolished churches are often heavily opposed by Christian members but only to the latter's detriment as with the case in Beitou Church in Zhumadian, Henan.

The church pastor, Li Jiangong, and his wife, Ding Cuimei, firmly opposed their church's demolition after a local developer desired to take over the church property. The demolition team resorted to burying the couple alive. Li was able to dig his way out but his wife died from suffocation.

"The top leadership is increasingly worried about the rapid growth of Christian faith and their public presence, and their social influence," China Aid President Bob Fu said in an earlier interview with The Christian Post, adding "It is a political fear for the Communist Party, as the number of Christians in the country far outnumber the members of the party."

According to a Pew Research Center study, Christians in China were already 67 million in 2011 and the numbers would still have risen through the years. Fu also added that official documents can reveal the government's aim to "contain the overheated growth of Christianity."