|Hao Ren |||Apr 12, 2014 06:12 AM EDT|
(Photo : Tom Philips) Sanjiang Church in Wenzhou City
Chinese officials have denied allegations that they are clamping down on religious activity by ordering the demolition of Christian churches in Wenzhou in Zhejiang province.
But a recent speech by an official of Wenzhou's Bureau of Ethnic and Religious Affairs hinted that the Communist Party is getting uncomfortable with the fast spread of Christianity in the port city, which has come to be known as the "Jerusalem of the East".
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Such discomfort has reportedly prompted the city government to order about a dozen churches to be torn down for alleged violations of the local building code.
Taiwan-based China Aid Association (CAA), a predominantly Christian Protestant missionary group, appealed to the government to cease and desist from implementing the demolitions.
CAA said that thousands of believers attend services at Sanjiang Church, one of the churches set to be demolished, and many will be displaced if the church is torn down.
At least five churches were declared for immediate demolition.
The issue even spread on social media and reports came out saying local government officials ordered all churches to remove crosses at the top of their bell towers.
However, sources from the city government said that the order to remove crosses applied only to churches already sanctioned by the state and does not include unauthorized or underground religious movements.
The same source said that the removal of crosses was aimed at eliminating structures that pose a risk to people's safety.
There are more than a million out of Wenzhou's nine million residents who practice Christianity.
The Communist Party of China remains resistant to any religious movement in any part of the country as part of the Marxist doctrines on the ill effects of religion to society.
In China, religious groups are considered a threat to the exclusive and efficient control of the whole nation by the dominant Communist party.
Beijing partially tolerates the existence or the practice of religion, but only recognizes religious denominations that have been approved and sanctioned by the state. In certain cases, the party even designates the monks, pastors or priests who would lead a certain congregation or parish.
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