Originally published in Christian Headlines
As coronavirus restrictions lift in China, the communist government remains steadfast in its ongoing persecution of local Christians.
In April, the local government in Yugan County shut down at least 48 Three-Self churches, according to Bitter Winter, a magazine on religious rights and human rights in China.
The reasoning behind the shutdowns is due to Yugan County’s “large number of believers”, making it “one of the key targets of the Communist Party of China’s religious persecution”.
According to the The Christian Post, Yugan county has a population of over 1 million people, in which more than 10% are Protestants who attend over 300 officially registered Three-Self churches.
One Three-Self congregant told Bitter Winter that in April, officials of Shegeng town, under the direction of the mayor, raided the church and removed its podium, cross and all other religious symbols.
Congregants wept in distress at the sight of the destruction of the church’s most cherished items.
The believer noted, “if you try to protest, they will accuse you of fighting against the Communist Party and the central government”.
In Yugan’s Daxi township, a village press secretary told believers that shutting down churches and demolishing crosses was part of state policy.
One of the local believers noted that the press secretary said that “there were too many believers in the county”, following a government inspection.
“When so many believe in God, who will listen to the Communist Party?” the believer said, quoting the secretary. “There is no other choice but to remove crosses from your churches”.
In addition to church closures, the government ordered that religious symbols be purged from the homes of believers.