The systematic campaign to pull down Christian symbols continues in China: officials on Monday removed the cross topping Longgang Huai En Church in the city of Wenzhou, known as the “Jerusalem of China.” The AP has more:
Authorities told the church the cross violated building height limits, and returned it to the parishioners, who wept and prayed around it, said Qu, who is a member of another church. A man at the county’s public security office said he didn’t know anything about the incident, and the Longgang township police didn’t answer phone calls.Across Zhejiang province, where Wenzhou is located, authorities have toppled or threatened to topple crosses at more than 130 Protestant churches. In a few cases, the government has even razed sanctuaries.
With corruption a problem at every level of government, repeated scandals over unscrupulous industries dumping waste (and dead pigs) into rivers, fouled food supply and growing inequality, Chinese authorities have enough on their hands. They’d be better off if they got out of the way and let Christianity prosper on its own.In fact, this level of repression is probably good for Chinese Christianity in the long run: it is tough enough that it will challenge Christians to remain faithful and keep churches from being filled with insincere hangers-on. But it’s mild enough that the church’s work will continue. The bitter repression of Christianity under Mao killed many Chinese Christians, and many more innocent believers were beaten, tortured, or imprisoned. But Chinese Christianity emerged from this nightmare stronger than ever.In fact, Mao may have done Christianity in China the greatest possible favor. By cutting it off from foreign mission support and funding, and by removing all material incentive for joining the church, he in effect created an authentic, naturalized faith that is legitimately Chinese. Today’s milder persecution, by underlining the degree to which Christians are not part of the corrupt Chinese elite, will further enhance the legitimacy of the church.