Thousands of Chinese Christians have camped in and around Sanjiang Christian Church in eastern China to prevent it from being demolished under a provincial campaign to curb the spread of Christianity, Charisma News reports.
Concerned that Christianity was growing too fast, local officials in the providence of Zhejiang began a campaign in February to demolish any church buildings that violated local regulations. Friday evening (April 4), the Telegraph reported that hundreds of Christians had stationed themselves inside the church to block access to demolition teams during the night.
“I slept here last night and I will do the same again tonight. We pulled two pews together so it was quite all right. We feel at peace and fearless when we are with our God,” He Hongying, an 81-year-old church member, told the Telegraph.
According to the Washington Post, officials are most perturbed by the prominent crosses that many churches use to advertise their presence. At least six crosses have been taken down, and churches were told to instead hand smaller ones inside the buildings. At Sanjiang Church, officials also demanded the church remove several spires on the rooftop. Threats to tear down the church began when church leaders refused to comply.