Religious tension is mounting in China as the government continues to crackdown on Christian churches.
China began a campaign in 2013 to take down the prominent red crosses that sit atop many Chinese churches.
Many churchgoers protested the campaign to take down the crosses. In 2014 some protesters even went so far as forming a human shield which ultimately failed to stop demolition efforts.
One parishioner in China’s Zhejiang province expressed confusion when the authorities cut down the steel cross atop the Catholic church the parishioner attended: "Doesn't the government give us the right to religious freedom? Why are they taking down our symbol without any explanation?"
Another parishioner, who identified himself only as Chen for fear of the authorities, echoed the general confusion and sadness: "We have violated no law. We do not oppose the government. We have been good, law-abiding citizens."
According to ABC News, authorities in Zhejiang province have been instructed to take down every cross from the 4,000 or so churches in the province within a two-month timeframe.
It is reported that even China’s semiofficial Christian associations which tend to be lukewarm in matters of religious freedom, have spoken out against the increased government interference in churches.
These groups and others have warned that the very effort to stamp out any enemies may create more enemies where there were none to begin with.
The increasing severity of the cross campaign is thought to be due to the leadership of President and Communist Party leader Xi Jinping who came to power in 2012.
Publication date: August 5, 2015