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Civil Rights and Livelihood Watch: Current Crackdown Worse than “Cultural Revolution”

Cathedral of the Sacred Heart in Gangzhou credit: Zhangzhugang
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The following article was translated from Chinese to English. Initially dated September of 2021, this report emphasizes the plight and persecution of Chinese Christians, namely those of Early Rain Covenant Church in Chengdu. Find the original article here (In Chinese).  

Recently, the church located on Beijing Road, Kunming, Yunnan became a hit and a popular spot for photography. Many across the country and the world came to take photos of the church and to honor it. The nearly-100-year-old church survived the Anti-Japan War, the civil war, and the “Destroying the Four Olds” in the Cultural Revolution. The church is called the “Cathedral of the Sacred Heart of Jesus” which brings warmth and endless imagination to those in Kunming because it is spectacular and presents the gorgeous vista. However, it came to the end of its life and has been gradually dismantled by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) in secret. Thereby, it is obvious that churches that were not demolished in the Cultural Revolution cannot survive the sweeping “Sinicization of Religions” launched by the CCP. Put in other words, the CCP’s crackdown on Christianity is worse than the Cultural Revolution, so it is safe to draw a conclusion that Chinese citizens are stripped of religious freedom.  

According to insiders, the “Cathedral of the Sacred Heart of Jesus” located on Beijing Road, Kunming City, Yunnan Province was originally built by Yong Shouzheng, a Belgian missionary and the bishop of Yunnan diocese in 1935, but he returned to Belgium because of illness. The construction of the church was completed by his successors. It was formerly known as Teresa Church, and it was also called “Taihe Street Cathedral” because Bejing Road was called Taihe Street at that time. It was renamed in 1981. Sacred Heart Cathedral consists of the synagogue and the bishop’s house. The synagogue is situated on the west and faces the east, the width 15 meters, the length 29 meters, and its approximate area 440 square meters. It was remodeled in 2002. The “Cathedral of Sacred Heart of Jesus” used to be the church of the bishop of Kunming (Yunnan) Diocese. At present, it serves Yunnan Province Catholic Patriotic Committee and Catholic Council. The church building was dilapidated because of little maintenance, so Yunnan Province Catholic Patriotic Committee and Catholic Council reported it to Yunnan Provincial Party Committee and the provincial government. The remodel was approved in 2007 and completed in 2018. However, due to various reasons, the “Cathedral of the Sacred Heart of Jesus” was not open to the public after hosting a few masses and sacraments. Three years later, the staircases leading to the synagogue of the “Cathedral of Sacred Heart of Jesus” and some outside parts of the church were already demolished.  

People who visited the “Cathedral of Sacred Heart of Jesus” described it: when the sun shines the stained glass, colorful light is reflected on the walls. The stunning beauty makes people hold their breath. Nevertheless, the beautiful architecture ended up dismantled.  

If demolition happened to only the Cathedral of Sacred Heart of Jesus situated in Kunming, Yunnan, it could be the result of the urban planning. However, numerous Christian churches across the country have been demolished since the new ruler took power in the 18th National Congress of the CCP and proposed the heritage of the red blood and Sinicization of religions. It is estimated that over 10,000 Christian churches were demolished in China in the past 5 years. Many spectacular churches from east to west and north to south used to comfort souls but are now reduced to debris, which makes the souls of many believers homeless. The churches survived to this point, but as the CCP tightens its control, they remain dysfunctional and cannot introduce authentic faith to people nor comfort their souls. For instance, the governments of multiple regions stuck the announcement on the wall of religious venues and put “Two Should Not Enter; Two Should Not Exit” on the wall of churches. The former means “the underage should not enter a church; CCP members should not enter unless because of work”; the latter means “religious events should be held within the religious venue; church staff should not attend religious events without permission”. It is apparent that the authorities control the religious venues and church staff across the country like controlling inmates.  

The CCP demolishes many churches, whose historic and architectural value cannot make them survive this crackdown on religions, but also persecutes all religious folks. The CCP either asks these people to give up their Christian faith or believe in the CCP and worship the CCP rulers. Otherwise, authorities will shut down their worship venues, disperse their home Bible studies, terminate their residency, fire them from their jobs, punish their families, and eventually detain them.  

According to Civil Rights & Livelihood Watch, on the evening of September 1, police officers and national security officers of Jinyang Police Station, Wuhou District, Chengdu, with a few dozen people wearing the red badge knocked on each household’s door, checking on them and evicting a few Christian families of Early Rain Covenant Church who have rented an apartment in the complex for a long time. The Christians of Early Rain Covenant Church lived in Jiaoda Garden, Wuhou District, Chengdu, but their release was not up yet.  

On the afternoon of September 2nd, Shu Qiong, a Christian attending Early Rain Covenant Church, was pulled over by a few Jinyang police officers, and she was not allowed to enter the complex where she lived—Wuhou Complex, Jiaoda Garden, Wuhou District, Chengdu.  

Police asked Shu Qiong if she was a Christian, and Shu Qiong responded, saying, “I am a Christian.” Police said, “It is forbidden here now.” Shu Qiong shouted to pedestrians, saying, “I believe in Christianity, and people have eternal life if they believe in Christ. There is no religious freedom in China, and I am banned from coming back home because of my Christian faith. You all enforce laws illegally and violently. You can arrest me if I break laws, but I advocate for myself now.”  

About 1 hour later, Li Ying, a congregant of Early Rain Covenant Church living in the same complex, was forcibly taken away by police at the entrance. Li Ying was released that evening, around 7 pm. 

On the early morning of September 3rd, police with a large crowd of uncles and aunts came by the home of the Zhu Hong and Sun Ailun couple who attend Early Rain Covenant Church, telling them that they are not welcome and asking them to move out. Sun Ailun was pregnant. She was also pregnant during the massive arrest of Early Rain Covenant Church on December 9th, 2018. Police attacked her, resulting in a miscarriage. Today, Shu Qiong and Luo Yi videoed using their cell phones, police grabbed their cell phones, twisted their hands, threatened them to delete the videos, claiming that they would be taken to the police station.  

Persecution, demolition, and shutdown of churches and worship venues demonstrate that Chinese citizens are stripped of their fundamental right of religious freedom which is granted by the Constitution. In addition, it reveals that CCP authorities are completely against universal civilization. The world should be cognizant of the circumstance in China and the civilized world should strive to protect human rights and civilization while citizens’ rights are trampled, and human civilization is ravaged.  

Civil Rights and Livelihood Watch September 5, 2021 

(Editor-in-chief: CRLW editors) 

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