Loading
Church bulldozing in China prompts religious freedom worries
Flag of China. Credit: Tomas Roggero via Flickr (CC BY 2.0).
Flag of China. Credit: Tomas Roggero via Flickr (CC BY 2.0).
Facebook Twitter Google+ Pinterest Addthis

.- Chinese authorities’ bulldozing of a large Protestant church shows the need for greater respect for religious freedom in the country, a U.S. congressman has said.

“The destruction of church buildings and the detention of religious leaders in Zhejiang Province is a stunning and somber reminder that many hardliners in the Chinese government still want to eradicate the religious freedom of the Chinese people and control all practice of religion,” U.S. Rep. Chris Smith (R-N.J.) said May 1.

Smith is the chair of the subcommittee on human rights within the House Foreign Affairs Committee. He also co-chairs the U.S. Congressional-Executive Commission on China.

“Religious freedom is a foundational and universal right and a defining characteristic of stable and prosperous societies. China must start to see the growth of religious faith as something to encourage not destroy,” the congressman said.

In late April, government authorities in the southeastern city of Wenzhou bulldozed the Sanjiang Church, a $4 million structure capable of holding 3,000 worshippers that had been under construction for more than 12 years. The government claimed that the building broke planning rules, the BBC’s China editor Carrie Gracie said in a May 4 blog entry.

Congregants said that they had previously enjoyed good relations with the local government and planners had not objected to the construction, Gracie said. Some officials encouraged them to spread Christianity on the grounds that the city’s Christians are law-abiding and good citizens.

They attributed the destruction of their church to a difference between local and provincial party officials, the latter of whom were offended at the prominent display of Christian crosses.

There are about 1 million Christians in Wenzhou and churches dominate the cityscape.

Catholic places of worship have also been targeted in the city.

On April 26, about 50 government workers sealed off Wenzhou’s Longgang Hill, a site of Catholic pilgrimage with statues of Jesus’ Crucifixion that covers almost an acre of land. The workers bricked off giant statues of Jesus, the Virgin Mary and St. Joseph while removing other statues. Other religious decorations were destroyed, UCA News reports.

Like the Sanjiang Church, authorities claimed the site was built illegally.

Rep. Smith said the destruction of the church is “a devastating blow” to the congregation and will be “a source of broader social instability and distrust.”

“It has already served to unify diverse religious groups against the government’s extreme policies,” he stated.

Rep. Smith’s office said that there are an estimated 80-100 million Christians in China. Some estimates suggest that their numbers could grow to 160 million by 2025.

Tags: Religious freedom, China, Church vandalism

Ads by AdsLiveMedia(What's this?)

* The number of messages that can be online is limited. CNA reserves the right to edit messages for content and tone. Comments and opinions expressed by users do not necessarily reflect the opinions or beliefs of CNA. CNA will not publish comments with abusive language, insults or links to other pages

RESOURCES »

Ads by Google (What's this?)

Featured Videos

Pope Francis greets paralyzed man who risked all to see him
Pope Francis greets paralyzed man who risked all to see him
Franciscans on the banks of the Tiber in Rome, working for the New Evangelization
Pilgrimage from Czech Republic to Assisi and Rome for intentions
Testimony of young Indian who met Pope in Korea
Preparations of the Closing Mass of 6th Asian Youth Day
Missionary of Charity, Korea
Testimony of Christian Love during Pope's Visit to Korea
Religious Sisters in South Korea react to Pope Francis kissing a baby
Warm atmosphere during Holy Mass at Daejeon World Cup Stadium
Images inside Pope Francis flight to South Korea
The tombs of the early Christians
Missionaries of Africa, called "the White Fathers"
Italian youth give testimony after mission to Peru
Interview with Iraqi Ambassador to the Holy See on the persecution of Christians
New book 'The Vatican unknown'
A Look at India from Rome
3D Church mapping
#PAUSEforPeace Initiative
Dedicating art to San Juan de la Cruz
A state without territory elects new government
Sep
19

Liturgical Calendar

September 19, 2014

Friday of the Twenty-Fourth Week in Ordinary Time

All readings:
Today »
This year »

Catholic Daily

Gospel of the Day

Lk 8:1-3

Gospel
Date
09/19/14
09/18/14
09/17/14

Daily Readings


First Reading:: 1 Cor 15: 12-20
Gospel:: Lk 8: 1-3

Saint of the Day

St. Romuald »

Saint
Date
09/19/14

Homily of the Day

Lk 8:1-3

Homily
Date
09/19/14
09/18/14
09/17/14