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Group Officials destroying crosses, burning bibles in China

BEIJING — A group that monitors Christianity in China says the government is ratcheting up a crackdown on congregations in Beijing and several Chinese provinces, destroying crosses, burning bibles and ordering followers to sign papers renouncing their faith.

The campaign corresponds with a drive to “Sinicize” religion by demanding loyalty to the officially atheist Communist Party and eliminating any challenges to its power over people’s lives.

Bob Fu of the U.S.-based group China Aid said over the weekend that the closure of churches in central Henan province and a prominent house church in Beijing in recent weeks represent a “significant escalation” of the crackdown.

A local official in the Henan city of Nanyang where a pastor said government officials burned crosses, bibles and furniture said officials in the province respected religious freedom.