After learning of the Chinese government's plan to bulldoze a church in Wenzhou, China, thousands of people have gathered to form a 24/7 human chain to protect it:
Officials claimed the church had been built illegally and used red paint to daub the words: “Demolish” and “Illegal construction” onto its towering facade.
Wenzhou's underground “house” churches – those unwilling to comply with Communist Party rules – have long been subjected to sporadic crackdowns, such as one in 2000 that saw hundreds of churches and temples demolished across Zhejiang province.
However, the Sanjiang church is part of the Three-Self Patriotic Movement, China's officially sanctioned and government-controlled Protestant church, making this week's stand-off highly unusual.
The church says it follows China's laws regulating Christianity, such as only worshiping on Sunday and avoiding politically sensitive topics. Leaders believe they are being illegally targeted by a too-powerful Communist Party leader who recently visited the region and was “unimpressed” that a Christian church was so prominent in the community.
This is a stirring example of the friction that exists between religious liberty and communism. Any time the state dictates the way someone can worship, even when it is seemingly minor rules like only allowing it on a certain day of the week, there is reason for concern. People take religion very seriously; try to control it, and they will not go away quietly.