In what could be an implication of a crackdown against Christianity, Chinese authorities abolished holy symbols by bricking, cranes and bulldozers in Wenzhou and Longgang Hill in China.
Authorities ordered more than 50 men to demolish the US$4.8 million Sanjiang Church in Wenzhou with claims that the religious structures were illegally built, UCAnews reports.
However, for the devotees, the act was an implication that China is widening its anti-Christian campaigns.
"Even if the authorities determined that erecting religious articles on the site is against the law, they should allow us to appeal through legal means. This could help build the rule of law in society and stop corruption," Joseph, a Wenzhou Catholic told UCAnews.
"About 100 Catholics who came to watch the removals were blocked at the entrance. Some who managed to sneak in sang hymns and prayed while watching. Some could not hold back their tears," a Catholic (name withheld) said.
In a separate incident, authorities hurt four Catholics who stopped them from destroying a four-storey religious structure also in Wenzhou. Authorities claimed that the site was a hub for an underground religious activity.
In another religious demolition, Chinese authorities targeted the sanctuary of the Protestant Sanjiang Church, also claiming that the structure was built on a farmland not owned by the church. But a source said that the authorities' main objective was to destroy the cross.
Church officials tried to negotiate but authorities were adamant to destroy the church's crucifix for being "too big". Those who tried to stop the demolition were arrested with one pastor also prosecuted. An anonymous source told UCAnews that authorities also threatened business establishment of demolitions if they support the church officials.
Interestingly, as much as authorities deny the crackdown on Christianity, the demolition started after a report that Christianity was remarkably growing in China. The report predicted that Christianity could become the country's major religion.
Former head of religious affairs Ye Xiaowen said that the report was exaggerated.
"It is completely meaningless to predict how many people might believe in Christianity in China in the future," Ye Xiaowen said.
However, more churchgoers were detained and threats from authorities against those who support Christian believers persist.
UCAnews have yet to verify a leaked document listing the shortlisted 'illegal' religious sites to be demolished in the coming days.