By Michal Ortner
Hundreds of crosses have been removed from the grounds of the Chinese province, Zhejiang, by authorities. Protestant and Catholic churches alike have experienced the removal of the crosses on their properties.
According to The Christian Post, the Chinese government views the Christian religion as a threat because it continues to grow so quickly among their people.
“The authorities have attached great importance to this religious symbol,” said Zheng Leguo, a pastor from the province who now lives in the U.S. “This means no more prominent manifestation of Christianity in the public square.”
In this particular province, authorities may place a ban on crosses from the tops of religious buildings. Since the beginning of 2014, nearly 400 crosses have already been removed from Zhejiang churches. The government claims that the crosses violate the building codes in the city.
“This new draft law is just another attempt by the government to legitimize its existing illegal violent campaign of destruction and removal of the cross,” said Bob Fu of U.S.-based China Aid.
Last week, newly drafted rules for building codes were released by the government that specifically address religious symbols. The codes say that the symbols must be securely affixed to the building and be no bigger than one-tenth of the façade’s height. The religious symbol must also “fit in” with the rest of the building.
According to Fang Shenglan, an engineer at Zhejiang Provincial Institute of Architectural Design and Research, crosses will soon be illegal, with the ban being enforced by the government.
Since the 1980s, Christianity has increasingly spread throughout the communist country. Even though atheism is the required “religion” of the government, there are thousands of churches popping up all over the country. Wenzhou, a city in the Zhejiang province, has 2,000 churches in its borders.
“By my calculations, China is destined to become the largest Christian country in the world very soon,” said Fenggang Yang, a sociology professor at Purdue University. “It is going to be less than a generation. Not many people are prepared for this dramatic change.”
Yang believes that by 2025, nearly 160 million people could be converted to Protestant Christianity in China. In 2010, there were already a reported number of 70 million Christians, according to the Pew Research. At that time, it was the seventh ranked Christian country.
Despite government persecution, Christianity is spreading rapidly and causing thousands of illegal house churches to be created.