Removal of crosses from church buildings continues apace across China during the coronavirus lockdown, with numerous crosses torn down in in Jiangsu, Anhui and Shangdon provinces since the beginning of the year.
A cross removed from a church in Linyi, Shandong province, on 3 February was the latest of at least 70 ripped down in the city in the past year. “The government does not provide enough help during the [Covid-19] epidemic but instead demolishes crosses,” observed a local Christian.
An official in Zhuangwu town, part of Linyi, had ordered the cross removed from the state-registered “three-self” church, claiming it would make an “unpleasant” sight for his superiors that might lead to his dismissal.
The church is one of many official churches not spared in the ongoing crackdown, despite suspending all gatherings during the pandemic, and scrupulously complying with a slew of regulations introduced since 2018 under the government’s campaign to “sincise” (make Chinese) Christianity by reinterpreting it in line with Chinese Communist Party values.
In December 2019, numerous crosses were removed from three-self churches in Hegang city, in the north-east province of Heilongjiang. A local official threatened to shut a church in Dongshan district if the cross was not taken down because “it was higher than the national flag”.
The month before, when Christians protested the removal of a cross in Henan province, a government official said “[It is] the Communist Party that gives you food and money, not God”.