Tags: Religion | chinese | against | religious | freedom | crosses | christianity

Johnnie Moore: Chinese Bulldoze Church, Burying Alive a Pastor, Wife

Johnnie Moore: Chinese Bulldoze Church, Burying Alive a Pastor, Wife
(Greg Baker/Getty Images)

By    |   Monday, 25 April 2016 07:42 PM

I sometimes don't know whether I'm reading about ISIS or China.

Recently in a scene recalling Tiananmen Square's Tank Man, Pastor Li Jiangong and his wife, Ding Cuimei, blocked a team of government sponsored excavators sent to bulldoze their Beitou Church in Henan province, China.

The scene which unfolded has now caused international outrage: The pastor and his wife were shoved into a pit and buried alive. Li was able to dig himself out, but Cumiei, trapped under the weight of the dirt covering her, suffocated.

This is the latest in a serious escalation of Christian persecution in China — mainly at the hands of local and regional authorities.

The escalation began with a single church spire in April of 2014. Local government officials in Wenzhou, a city in Zhejiang province in China, ordered Sanjiang Church to tear down its 180-foot-tall spire due to "zoning regulations."

The New York Times reported that Wenzhou officials stated that they were trying "to regulate 'excessive religious sites' and 'overly popular' religious activities," but the statement singled out "only one religion, Christianity, and one symbol, crosses."

The church's parishioners protested, but on April 28, 2014 government machinery crushed the Sanjiang Church's spire into a pile of rubble.

This aggressive action would lay the foundation for a 36-page government directive regulating the size, color, and positioning of crosses in churches and inspire a campaign of destruction, imprisonment, and death in China's Zhejiang province.

By July of 2014, 150 crosses had been toppled from churches in Zhejiang province. In May of 2015 the number climbed to 400 crosses; by August of 2015, it skyrocketed to 1,200; and as of March of this year, it reached the 2,000 mark.

Along with the destruction of crosses often came imprisonment, like Pastor Huang Yizi who was sentenced to one year in prison for questioning the police's use of force on his parishioners who were protesting the removal of Salvation Church's cross. The court translated this into a conviction of "gathering crowds to disturb social order."

The best known case yet, in January of this year, involved Pastor Gu Yuese who was placed under "residential surveillance in a designated location" – the official term for facilities known more commonly as "black jails" reported TIME magazine. Pastor Gu led Chongyi Church, the largest "government-sanctioned" Protestant church in China.

Though officially charged with "embezzlement," everyone knows Gu was really arrested for publicly opposing Zhejiang's campaign against church crosses. The government also used Gu's arrest as an opportunity to remove him from his leadership position at Chongyi Church and while Pastor Gu was released in March 31, 2016, he remains under house arrest and forbidden from communicating with anyone without permission.

Since President Xi Jinping took office in 2013 – whether or not he's personally responsible for it – it is a fact that persecution towards religious groups, activists, and bloggers has intensified, reminiscent of China's Cultural Revolution. All of this at a time when many were observing a growing national acceptance of Christianity, and ascent of China on the global stage.

Now, many experts are wondering whether President Xi Jinping has any control whatsoever of local and regional officials who are enforcing arcane laws that brutally forbid religious freedom, almost always result in imprisonment, and sometimes result in torture and murder.

What's worse? The international community continues to give China a pass.

The fact is that if I hadn't included identifying context in the stories above, you might have thought I was writing about ISIS bulldozing churches, removing crosses, and burying pastors alive.

Like many other admirers of China, I had great hope that President Xi Jinping was going to bring China into a new era of religious freedom that would embrace human rights.

Instead, he's allowing local and regional officials to exercise ISIS-like tactics against peace-loving Chinese Christians.

It must stop.

Johnnie Moore is a noted author and advocate for international religious freedom. He is the President of The KAIROS Company. His latest book is entitled DEFYING ISIS. @JohnnieM

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I sometimes don't know whether I'm reading about ISIS or China. Recently in a scene recalling Tiananmen Square's Tank Man, Pastor Li Jiangong and his wife, Ding Cuimei, blocked a team of government sponsored excavators sent to bulldoze their Beitou Church in Henan province,...
chinese, against, religious, freedom, crosses, christianity
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2016-42-25
Monday, 25 April 2016 07:42 PM
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