Chinese Communist Party officials forcibly removed over a thousand Christian worshipers from their church because the building was “disturbingly eye-catching.”
China has responded to the fast-growing Christian population in Zhejiang province by destroying churches in bunches.
The latest victims are the congregation of Xiaying Holy Love Christians at a ten-story megachurch. The Christian community said Communist officials ordered them to leave the premises immediately following a visiting politician’s orders. The politician was apparently offended by the size of the cross on the roof of the building. “They told us the cross was too shiny, too tall and too big. At first they asked us to put it on the wall. We refused. Now they have told us they will tear the church down,” said a member of the church.
Local sources said the last service at the church took place on May 11. The church’s belongings are slowly being removed from the building day by day. The church, which now sits vacant, cost $4.3 million to build.
One of the church members highlighted why the Christian community should be viewed as a non-threatening force for good in China. “This church should not be demolished. Being a Christian is a good thing. It is all about peace and love. The government should support us. We have turned many bad people into good people,” he said, pointing to a number of former drug addicts and gamblers in the congregation.
“The demolition work has already started. I have seen churchgoers around here crying,” said a local resident.
According to the U.S. State Department’s International Religious Freedom Report on China, the government considers several Christian groups it does not officially recognize to be “evil cults.” The only official Christian groups recognized by the State are the Three-Self Patriotic Movement, China Christian Council (Protestant), and the Chinese Patriotic Catholic Association.
While not official, most estimates have China’s Christian population at about 100 million people.