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World News

Chinese government tears down cross on Christian nursing home

by Aaron James

A Chinese care worker says the government's torn down a cross from the top of a church attached to a Christian nursing home where she works.

Gao Huifang says men dressed in plain clothes arrived at the nursing home in Hangzhou, Eastern China, a week before Christmas. The men then took the cross down from on top of the church, connected to the nursing home.

She also says three residents fainted on the spot when the men dismantled the cross.

Huifang told Reuters: "Although everyone has recovered, the wound to our hearts will never heal."

When the men were questioned about their actions, Gao Huifang says their "orders came from high up."

Another nursing home resident who didn't want to be named said three people required hospital treatment after clashes with authorities removing the cross.

An ethnic and religious affairs official in the area said the cross was "not removed, but rectified", to create a "scenic spot".

The official, who refused to give his name, also said: "According to standards, this Christian nursing home is not a place for religious activities."

More than 400 churches have received demolition or cross-removal orders since December 12th, according to Christian advocacy group China Aid.

Their founder, Bob Fu, said: "The government is using illegal building regulations to justify this campaign and to stop Protestant Christianity from spreading too quickly in the region.

"By tearing down crosses, they are hoping to minimize the influence that Protestant Christianity has on the local population, and to further reduce its number of followers."

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