Sunday, May 11, 2014

Chinese Authorities Demolish Christian Church In Controversial Move

The Los Angeles Times reported last week on the complicated questions surrounding China's demolition last month of the Three Rivers (Sanjiang) Church in the southeastern Chinese city of Wenzhou. The $4 million church building was completed last year (background). According to the Times, the recently appointed provincial party secretary was offended by the building's size and the large cross on its spire. The paper reports:
Five local bureaucrats have been singled out for punishment, charged with failing to stop construction of a church they knew was to be much larger than building permits allowed.
Authorities say the church is just one of many illegal structures ensnared in their "Rectify Three, Demolish One" campaign intended to halt rampant violation of building regulations; signs in Wenzhou tout the campaign as a move to "make space for development."
Many local Christians, though, think the campaign aims to crack down on the churches that have proliferated in Wenzhou since the 1980s. Many members of the city's business class have flocked to the religion and funded the construction of increasingly elaborate houses of worship, in the process earning the city the moniker "China's Jerusalem."