The latest episode in the government’s attack on Christian churches in Wenzhou is the drafting of regulations outlining precise limits on the size and location of religious buildings and the size and placement of crosses.
These regulations highlight the arbitrary nature with which officials in China deal with the church. On one hand, one might argue that going from having no clear definition of what is allowed to having a set of regulations is an improvement. Yet the regulations themselves are capricious, and the fact that Zhejiang officials can seemingly pull out of thin air a formula for limiting the church’s public presence highlights the precarious position of Christian activity in China.
One Zhejiang pastor said as much in response to the government’s request for comments on the draft legislation. In a lengthy letter he questioned the scientific and aesthetic basis for the restrictions, why the regulations apply only to Christian places of worship, and why the standards for Protestant and Catholic churches are different.
The letter closes with an appeal for rationality and fairness in dealing with religion:
This writer is willing to say that the majority of colleagues in the religious community support the leadership of the Party, they take the lead in observing the law, they strive to be of one mind, and they contribute their own energy to building a prosperous society. At the same time, this writer also looks forward to a time when the relevant government departments can approach religion rationally, treat religion favorably, and genuinely respect other people's religious beliefs. Therefore, in order to continue to preserve excellent conditions for religious harmony, I call for greater effort to improve the "Building Regulations." Or, when conditions are ripe, to reissue a draft "Regulations" that the religious community can truly take to heart, that comforts the hearts of religious believers, and increases the power of the "Chinese Dream!”
Brent Fulton is the founder of ChinaSource. Dr. Fulton served as the first president of ChinaSource until 2019. Prior to his service with ChinaSource, he served from 1995 to 2000 as the managing director of the Institute for Chinese Studies at Wheaton College. From 1987 to 1995 he served as founding …View Full Bio
Are you enjoying a cup of good coffee or fragrant tea while reading the latest ChinaSource post? Consider donating the cost of that “cuppa” to support our content so we can continue to serve you with the latest on Christianity in China.