Officials: Church Demolition Not Attack on Christianity

Sanjiang Church in Wenzhou was demolished on Monday night after intense resistance from Chinese Christians. Authorities say that parts of the building were illegal, and that the church had been given the opportunity to remove them, but critics have accused them of engaging in a campaign against Christianity. The Telegraph’s Tom Phillips reports:

The Sanjiang church in Wenzhou, a wealthy coastal city in Zhejiang province with one of China’s largest Christian populations, was reduced to rubble on Monday night after excavators spent the day tearing parts of the building down.

Congregants accused the provincial government, which is controlled by Xia Baolong, an ally of Xi Jinping, the Chinese president, of promoting an orchestrated anti-church campaign in order to slow Christianity’s rapid growth.

China could be set to become the world’s largest Christian congregation by 2030, a leading expert told The Telegraph earlier this month.

Officials denied the demolition was an attack on Christianity on Tuesday and vowed to “aggressively push on” with a campaign against illegal buildings. [Source]

Phillips posted a series of updates about the demolition on Twitter:

Phillips previously reported officials’ denial of predictions that China could soon become the “world’s most Christian nation.”

In a recent interview with the paper, Fenggang Yang, a leading expert on religion in China, said the number of Chinese Protestants could swell to around 160 million by 2025 with the total number of Christians exceeding 247 million by 2030.

[...] However, the prediction appears to have gone down badly in Communist Party circles, with many senior leaders fearing the impact an increasingly powerful church could have on their ability to stay in power.

Ye Xiaowen, who is a member of the party’s powerful central committee, told state media such claims were “unscientific” and “obviously inflated”.[...] “It is completely meaningless to predict how many people might believe in Christianity in China in the future,” Mr Ye was quoted as saying by the Chinese-language Global Times. [Source]

Perhaps Beijing need not fear a more Christian China. On Facebook, against the backdrop of the upcoming 25th anniversary of the June Fourth democracy movement, People’s Republic of Amnesia author Louisa Lim posted an excerpt from former Tiananmen student leader Chai Ling’s most recent open letter to Tiananmen Mother Ding Zilin, in which Chai re-examined her role in the 1989 democracy movement in light of her Christian faith.

She wrote the following (rough translation): “So did I do anything wrong? Yes. At that time I didn’t know Jesus, I didn’t know God, I didn’t act according to the Bible. If I had known God at that time, I would have done this differently: I would have acted according to God’s words, in Romans 13: “Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God.” Unless the authorities do something that violates God’s commandments or decrees. Although the government’s order forbidding protest marches violated the constitution, it did not run counter to God, so at that time I should have obeyed the orders of the government and persuaded the students not to go out on the streets, not to hunger strike, not to be on the square. Instead we should have prayed in dorm rooms and on the campuses like the 80 year old Moses, following God’s timing and leadership and depending on God’s great powers and plans to change China.” [Source]

April 28, 2014 10:41 PM
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