China Aid, a U.S.-based organization that monitors the ongoing persecution of Christians in China, has accused the country's government of burning crosses that were taken down from churches. As noted by the group, the latest incidents indicate the Chinese government's expanding efforts regarding the crackdown on religious freedom.
Based on information collected by China Aid, about 2,000 churches have already been raided by authorities in the Zhejiang Province alone. According to reports, after taking down the crosses as ordered by the government, authorities sometimes burn these too, Newsmax has learned.
In one particular case, an entire church was completely destroyed. But according to government officials, the demolition was carried out due to the religious structure's building code violations.
The group noted that the anti-Christian operations in China have been going on for about two years now. These were initiated to target religious groups that were not sanctioned by the ruling Communist Party.
Those who oppose the operations, however, are often punished by the government. For instance, just last month, a Chinese pastor and his wife were sentenced to over 10 years in prison due to charges of corruption and disturbance of social disorder, CBS News reported. But, as noted by various sources, these two were arrested for defying the government's order to remove crosses in churches.
Aside from the crackdowns, another technique employed by the government in controlling Christianity in the country is by overtly taking over the duties of the Church. Late last month, government officials and government-back church leaders agreed that the state will serve as the governing body that will elect bishops.
This, of course, goes against the duties of the Vatican since only the Holy See has the authority to appoint bishops. Aside from this, it also steps over the teachings of the Church as it represses people's religious freedom.
Experts on the matter believe that the government's ongoing persecution of Christians is part of its efforts to regain control of the country. Despite the actions of officials against those who are truly faithful, the Christian population in the country continues to grow.
Rodney Stark, the co-director of Baylor University's Institute for Studies of Religion believe that due to the increasing number of Christians, the economy of China and the actions of the Communist Party are getting drastically affected.
"We can say that we haven't seen the Nero effect yet, with the government putting heat on Christians because China's economic numbers are looking bad," he said according to Knox News.
"Also, it's important to remember that we've reached the point where many leaders in China now have kids who are Christians," he added. "In some villages, you may have a Communist Party leader with a cross on his wall."