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 China: Bearing His Cross

At least 231 churches in one city in China withstood attacks by government officials last year. The authorities carried out a long-term campaign in which both unregistered churches and the state-approved Three-Self Patriotic Movement (TSPM) churches were targeted in Wenzhou, China. Some church buildings were required to remove exterior crosses (some by force), other buildings were seized by government officials and still others were completely demolished.

As a city with a prominent Christian community, the sudden change in authorities’ attitudes was puzzling to many, in particular because authorities were targeting government-sanctioned TSPM churches. VOM workers set out to find answers, and spent the last ten months investigating. “We wanted to know why the TSPM was so heavily targeted in this campaign,” said a VOM worker.

One possible reason for the sudden attention is a provincial leader who might be currying favor with China’s president. President Xi Jinping grew up in a Buddhist home, though he does not publicly practice Buddhism. Once governor of Zhejiang, Xi Jinping became China’s leader in 2012 and has since made statements indicating that he would like to “revive” Buddhism, Taoism and Confucianism in China in order to help strengthen the “moral fabric” of the nation.

As VOM workers toured the city, they could not help but notice that, “Most of the churches that have had their crosses removed (some voluntarily and some by force) are TSPM churches.”

read more: http://www.persecution.com/public/newsroom.aspx?story_ID=%3d373334&featuredstory_ID=%3d343735


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