A Chinese province where authorities have forcibly removed hundreds of rooftop crosses from skylines of cities and towns has proposed a ban on any further placement of the religious symbol atop sanctuaries at both Protestant and Catholic churches. The draft, if approved, will give authorities in the eastern province of Zhejiang legal grounds to remove rooftop crosses. Since early 2014, Zhejiang officials have toppled crosses from more than 400 churches, sometimes resulting in violent clashes with congregation members. They say the crosses violate building codes, but critics say the rapid growth of Christian groups have made the ruling Communist Party nervous.
"This new draft law is just another attempt by the government to legitimize its existing illegal violent campaign of destruction and removal of the cross," says Bob Fu of US-based China Aid, which has documented that 448 churches have had crosses removed or buildings destroyed. "To continue to forcefully remove and ban the cross on the rooftop of the church buildings demonstrates the Chinese regime's determination to contain the rapid growth of Christianity in China." The skyline of the Zhejiang city of Wenzhou, known as "China's Jerusalem" because it has half of the province's 4,000 churches, was once dominated by rooftop crosses. (The Chinese government is creating its own Christian theology.)