Apropos of my earlier post on Plucknett’s fine volume and the problem of church and state is this difficult story in today’s New York Times about the Chinese government’s decision to bulldoze the beautiful and imposing Sanjian Church in Wenzhou. You can see the pile of ash and rubble that remains. The ostensible secular purpose offered by the government was a violation of a zoning ordinance. But the story reports that the Chinese government has issued demolition orders and orders for the removal of crosses for dozens of other Christian churches as part of a concerted, but non-public, strategy to suppress Christianity and its “excessive religious sites” and “overly popular” religious activities.
Also of interest is that Christianity in particular seems to be a problem for the government. Government officials have been publicly praising other religions including Buddhism and Confucianism–a dramatic change in official policy–in an effort to augment the growing inter-religious tensions. But “Christianity,” the story reports, “is seen by some in the government as a colonial vestige at odds with the party’s control of political and social life.”