Removal of Zhejiang crosses should not be misread

Source:Global Times Published: 2015-8-5 0:33:01

The removal of some unauthorized churches and crosses in China's eastern province of Zhejiang, especially in  the city of Wenzhou, has ignited discontent among both clergy and laity, and has triggered a series of reports in the Western media. Solving the issue properly will be significant for social harmony as well as sustainable development in the region.

It started from the rapid development of Protestantism and Catholicism in the region over the past few years, which led to the mushrooming of church buildings. However, some did not adhere to the blueprints, with the floor area exceeding the limits.

In addition, according to the new guidelines to regulate the construction of religious buildings in Zhejiang, released in May, crosses should be no more than one-tenth the height of the building's façade, and should be placed on the building, not above it. Therefore, certain crosses, which did not meet these standards, were also taken down.

The explosive growth of Protestantism and Catholicism came as a surprise to Chinese society, especially near Wenzhou.

Yet it is inevitable that China must set standards for its management. Priests and worshippers should understand this. Despite their desire to make their churches splendid, neither Wenzhou nor Zhejiang are autonomous regions. Therefore, Christians should also consider other people's feelings in these diversified cities.

Objectively speaking, many churches in Wenzhou are too big, with exaggerated crosses. Non-believers do not feel so comfortable about it. But this is less important than the need to abide by construction regulations. 

This is perhaps a psychological barrier that every church congregant in Zhejiang should overcome. They should not be so sensitive to believe that the government is suppressing religious freedom because it has laid out regulations regarding the size of church buildings or crosses. Neither should they use the foreign media to pile pressure on the government. This can only increase misunderstandings and complicate the management of constructions. Church staff should help smooth the issue, and prevent any problems from spiraling into a confrontation in a bid to realize their demands.

Religions are also people's beliefs. China has never opposed the freedom of faith.  Management of the matter will ensure that the development of religions in the country connects to legal norms.

When everything is on the path of the rule of law, we will realize the harmonious coexistence of religions in the nation, as well as a diversified China.

Posted in: Observer

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