In early July, authorities approached a Wenzhou church network with an ultimatum posed to thousands of other churches in Zhejiang province: Take down the crosses on top of your churches, or else.It wasn’t the first time authorities had approached the church, explained Timothy, a preacher and network leader who asked to use only his first name for security purposes. In February 2014, authorities asked his network of two dozen churches to take down some of the taller, more noticeable crosses from atop churches along main roads. When church leaders asked officials what law gave them authority to destroy their crosses, the officials couldn’t produce an official document and ended up leaving the churches alone.But this time, they came back not only demanding the roadside crosses be taken down, but all the crosses on all the churches. In talks with church leaders, officials again had no official ...read more: http://www.worldmag.com/2015/07/chinese_leaders_order_all_crosses_demolished
_________________SI Moderator - Greg Gordon
Does anyone know more about these churches?The image in the article shows an ornate, expensive looking church building. Have conditions changed substantially such that churches like this were able to be built? Are these fellowships government approved to some level?
Some churches, such as Timothy’s, have vowed to leave the government-sanctioned Three-Self Patriotic Movement (TSPM) if officials forcibly remove their crosses. They fear government encroachment into not just the church’s facade but its theological foundation.
In the past, Wenzhou churches have maintained a good relationship with the government, as many influential people in society are themselves believers, Timothy said. His church network is registered under the TSPM, but acts independently from the government’s religious bureau, a setup unique to Wenzhou. Timothy believes one reason for the current crackdown is the government’s desire to exert greater control over what is preached from the pulpit.