Crosses have been torn down across China, as the state’s crackdown on independent evangelical Christianity continues apace, Release International has warned. Information from the organisation, which supports persecuted Christians worldwide, has revealed that 49 crosses have been torn down since the start of the year. Where churches have refused to demolish the symbol, authorities have cut off their water and electricity. Over recent years 1,850 crosses have been removed.
Two church leaders who opposed the campaign of cross demolitions have been jailed for ‘corruption, financial crimes and gathering a crowd to disturb the social order’. Pastor Bao Guohua, and his wife, Xing Wenxiang, were sentenced on February 25 to 14 and 12 years — said to be the harshest sentences to be imposed during the current clampdown. Paul Robinson, chief executive of Release, said, ‘There are concerns this campaign to curtail the visible Christian presence in the province could gather momentum and spread across China’.