A GOVERNMENT campaign to remove crosses from the rooftops of an area of China once described as “China’s Jerusalem” for its concentration of Christians, has now been extended to hospitals.
The authorities in the coastal province of Zhejiang have issued notices banning “all forms of religious activity” in public hospitals, including praying, preaching, and ministers visiting the bedside of patients.
The Vatican press agency Asia News reported that notices had gone up in hospitals, and nurses and doctors have been told to explain the new rules to patients.
“The religious activities in the hospital have never been encouraged,” an unnamed employee at the hospital told the news agency. “But some prayed silently, which is understandable: on the other hand, we are all here to support patients. But others made noise, reading the Bible or reciting prayers aloud. And that’s not good.”
The crackdown on churches started in 2014, and has resulted in the tearing down of 2000 crosses and the arrest and imprisonment of prominent Christians who have opposed the government’s action (News, 17 June, 24 March, 14 August 2015).
The province is due to host the G20 summit next month, and some churches have been ordered to close as they have been deemed a “security threat”. A charity that supports persecuted Christians, Release International, said that one house church, which had been in existence for 40 years, had already been shut down.
The charity said: “Some churches have been ordered to stop meeting altogether. All are under close surveillance. The authorities argue that some churches ‘folk beliefs’ pose a security risk.”