The end of coronavirus lockdowns in China have meant the return of aggressive government persecution for many Christian churches in the communist country. For some, that has involved being ordered to remove crosses, while others have seen the shuttering and even demolition of their places of worship.
Yugan county has nearly 100,000 Protestant believers spread across 300 state-sanctioned churches. That proportionally high density of Christians has made Yugan an easy target for communist harassment. Reports indicate that within just a two-week period in April, at least 48 churches were shut down in the county.
A village Chinese Communist Party secretary in the Daxi township of Yugan explained the government's position.
"Higher echelons of government declared after an inspection that there were too many believers in the county," he said. "When so many believe in God, who will listen to the Communist Party? There is no other choice but to remove crosses from your churches."
In one instance, the town of Shegeng stormed the church and removed all crosses, podiums, and religious elements, leaving many congregants in tears. One of the church members expressed that protesting the persecution is not an option.
"Ever since the central religious supervision team was stationed in Yugan county, officials of all government levels don't dare to relax," the believer said. "Whether they demolish a church or a cross, everyone is afraid to challenge them. If you try to protest, they will accuse you of fighting against the Communist Party and the central government."
Government officials have informed congregations that the lifting of mandatory quarantines will mean increased inspections from central, provincial, and municipal government authorities.