Authorities forcibly removed the cross from the top of a registered church in Jiangsu province, China, on 10 February, despite the protests of Christians.
Builders arrived with a crane at Chengdong Christian Church and hoisted the large cross from the four-storey building. The national flag was flying next to it.
More than 20 of the church’s 3,000-strong congregation were present. Many objected to the removal and others called for more prayer. Chengdong Christian Church is a government approved “three-self” church that was officially registered in 2007.
The past year has seen an intensification of government action against the official “three-self” churches, and unofficial congregations, known as “house churches” in China, a country where there are thought to be at least 150 million Christians, possibly even 200 million.
In November 2018, a “three-self” church in Henan province was ordered to erase the First Commandment from display by government officials. Also in Henan in 2018, crosses were torn down at churches in Jiaozuo, Shangqiu and Anyang and, in mid-April, a church at Gongyi was forcibly demolished.
Pastor Wang Yi and his wife Jiang Rong from the unofficial Early Rain Covenant Church in Sichuan province, detained on 9 December, remain in jail along with at least twelve members of the congregation.
A statement signed by 500 church leaders in November 2018 said authorities have removed crosses from buildings, forced churches to display the Chinese flag and sing patriotic songs, and barred children from attending worship services.
Source: Barnabas Fund