In the last two years, nearly 1,500 churches have been targeted for demolition in the Chinese province of Zhejiang.
“After claiming 2014 to be the worst year for religious persecution in China since the Cultural Revolution, observers in and outside the country say this year saw the situation deteriorate further in 2015,” reports Catholic Herald, “Relations between China’s religious groups and the Communist Party have not been this strained since the days of Chairman Mao.”
The anti-Christian campaign began with the forceful removal of crosses on church facades. However, Christians in the region have pushed back against the government’s denial of religious liberties.
“As the cross-removal campaign reached a crescendo midyear, ordinary Christians and priests took to social media to announce a campaign making mini-crosses, and bishops took the rare step of publicly denouncing authorities,” adds the Herald. “Christians say they now face something even worse: the cross-removal campaign was all about controlling the church facades, but in recent weeks authorities have interfered inside churches.”
Although the Christian community and its clerics have come together and resisted government interference in novel, counter-revolutionary ways, the overwhelming power of China’s centralized government in Beijing may prove too big a cross to bear. In the last few years, China has sent additional troops to even the most remote western villages to clamp down on open expressions of religious piety.
Despite a series of governments in the post-Mao era, China is still held hostage to communist precepts, including Marxist atheism. While its coastal cities have thrived as a result of loosened constraint on religious liberties and economic liberalism, China’s rural communities suffer from government censors keen on maintaining the status quo of Maoist conformity.