The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) is selling and repurposing church buildings—in addition to destroying them—as part of its efforts to prevent believers from meeting. Instead of being houses of worship, some Chinese Christian church buildings are now being used to promote the values of the Communist Party.
“People of faith outnumber Communist Party members, and the Party is not winning people’s hearts,” said a village official, according to human rights magazine Bitter Winter. Explaining why three state-approved churches in Suqian’s Siyang county were destroyed, the official said, “Churches are eradicated to ensure that there are more CCP members than believers.”
State-approved churches are known as “Three-Self” churches, and Suqian is a prefecture-level city in China’s Jiangsu province. Last year, officials shut down Protestant congregations in more than 70 buildings in Suqian and in Lianyungang, another prefecture-level city in Jiangsu.
‘Eradicating’ Chinese Christian Church Buildings
As ChurchLeaders reported earlier this year, not even the government-approved Three-Self Church is protected from the CCP’s interference. In October 2019, officials destroyed a state-approved church building in Anhui province—while the members were worshipping.
Hundreds of crosses have been removed this year from Three-Self Churches in Anhui. On April 10, the CCP destroyed a Three-Self Church building in the province of Jiangxi.
“The government is eradicating churches,” said the director of a Three-Self church in Lianyungang’s Bailu town. At an August meeting, town officials informed Three-Self Church directors that they must sell or rent their empty church buildings. One, Chenzhuang Church, had already been sold on July 26. Another was sold in August and another rented on Aug. 25.
One Chinese Christian church building in Xiayi county in Henan province was used as a clothing factory for two months. Then, on Oct. 21, officials ordered the building to be destroyed and for a clinic to be built in its place.
Another building (this one formerly used by a house church) was repurposed as a “Civilization Practice Station for a New Era.” These stations are part of a propaganda effort by the CCP to ensure that citizens adhere to party ideology.
Authorities repurposed a Three-Self church building in Suqian’s Shuyang county by turning it into a cultural center that memorializes heroes of the Red Army. According to one official, “The church will now be used to teach the young generation about China’s revolutionary spirit.” On June 5, workers put up a sign there reading “Huaihai District’s Military and Political Auditorium.” This replaced the church’s cross and its original sign that said, “God loves the world.”
The reality is that no church in China is safe from being commandeered or destroyed by the government. Last year, authorities demolished a True Jesus Church after members and church leaders tried to stop the building from being closed and repurposed. In fact, the destruction of church buildings at the hands of Chinese authorities has been occurring for some time now, as has the removal of crosses from Protestant and Catholic churches.
And Christianity is by no means the only faith the CCP is targeting. The Chinese government has an official sinicization campaign, the alleged purpose of which is to eliminate the “western” influence of Christianity and the Bible in order to make them more “Chinese.” But even faiths that are “eastern” are not safe from the Chinese Communist Party, which wants to be the ultimate priority in people’s lives.
Elderly Man Dies Protesting Temple Demolition in Anhui Province
Buddhist and folk religion temples continue to be destroyed across the eastern province of Anhui, as their guardians face government threats and police violence.https://t.co/Th7OzlnyO9
— BitterWinterMagazine (@BitterWinterMag) November 12, 2020