Protestants in Jiangxi Province’s Yugan county have been suffering CCP’s persecution for the past few years. Attacks renewed after coronavirus lockdown was lifted.
by Tang Zhe
Since the coronavirus lockdown measures were eased, local governments throughout the southeastern province of Jiangxi started intensifying efforts to suppress places of worship. In April, countless churches in Jiujiang, Fuzhou, Fengcheng, Shangrao, and other cities in the province were ordered to remove their crosses. Some of them were cleared out and shut down, while others were even demolished.
Yugan county, administered by Shangrao city, has over one million residents, more than ten percent of whom are Protestants, who attend over 300 officially registered Three-Self churches. Because of this considerably large number of believers, the county has become one of the key targets of the CCP’s religious persecution. According to reports, between April 18 and 30, at least 48 Three-Self churches and meeting venues were shut down in Yugan county.
In late April, the government of Shegeng town ordered to empty a local Three-Self church forcibly. One of its congregation members told Bitter Winter that government personnel, led by the town mayor, stormed into the church, removed its podium, cross, and all other religious symbols. Seeing the church’s valuables destroyed, some congregation members wept in distress.
“Ever since the central religious supervision team was stationed in Yugan county, officials of all government levels don’t dare to relax,” the believer said. “Whether they demolish a church or a cross, everyone is afraid to challenge them. If you try to protest, they will accuse you of fighting against the Communist Party and the central government.”
In mid-April, the government of Yugan’s Yangbu town demolished the cross of a Three-Self church. A local believer told Bitter Winter that the government has plans to convert the 300-square-meter church into an elderly activity center.
On April 21, a village Party secretary in Yugan’s Daxi township told local believers that it was one of the state’s policies to shut down churches and demolish crosses. “Higher echelons of government declared after an inspection that there were too many believers in the county,” he said. “When so many believe in God, who will listen to the Communist Party? There is no other choice but to remove crosses from your churches.”
He also emphasized that new inspection teams from central, provincial, and municipal governments will come for inspections. “It won’t do if they find your church still has these things,” the party secretary explained, referring to crosses and other religious symbols. He added that possession of a religious venue registration certificate would not save them; they will still have to remove all religious items and empty the church.
Video: The cross atop the Central Church in Yugan’s Jiulong town is being demolished.
Multiple Three-Self churches and meeting venues were emptied and merged in Yugan’s Meigang and Jiulong townships. A believer from one of the towns recalled a village official telling him that churches are merged on orders from the central government. “He explained that each level of government pressures a subordinate level to implement these orders throughout the province,” the believer said. “Whoever disobeys may be labeled as a terrorist.”
Video: A Three-Self church is being emptied in Yujiang’s Hehuling branch.
Religious symbols from believers’ homes are also being purged. “The government removed all couplets from my house,” a believer from Yangbu town complained to Bitter Winter. “The central government demands not only to remove crosses from churches but also discard of religious symbols from believers’ homes. In late April, village officials removed couplets with crosses from over 100 households within two days.”
In late March, the Daxi township government launched a special crackdown campaign, which will last until the end of August, to remove religious symbols from rural households. No village under the town’s jurisdiction is allowed to erect a cross or display couplets with cross images.
“The government does not allow us to believe in God,” a local believer commented. “Xi Jinping follows the path of Mao Zedong, who cracked down on all religious beliefs and killed people of faith. If you refuse to obey the president who orders you not to attend religious meetings, you’ll be arrested and imprisoned.”
Source: Bitter Winter