FT_14.07.10_destructionReligiousPropertyWenzhou is called “China’s Jerusalem” because of the number of churches that have popped up around the city. And Sanjiang Church was, according to the New York Times, the “pride of this city’s growing Christian population.”

That was before the government brought in bulldozers and razed the church building to the ground.

The government claimed the the church violated zoning regulations, but an internal government document revealed the truth: “The priority is to remove crosses at religious activity sites on both sides of expressways, national highways and provincial highways,” the document says. “Over time and in batches, bring down the crosses from the rooftops to the facade of the buildings.”

Unfortunately, China is not the only country that is inflicting damage on religious property. A new Pew Research Center analysis finds that such incidents are occurring in almost three dozen countries around the world:

Since 2007, as part of a broader study on global restrictions on religion, we have collected data on religious property damage – including demolition of houses of worship, and the seizure of religious groups’ property and government raids of houses of worship that result in property damage. The data used here are a sub-set from the report, which also includes property restitution issues and seizure of religious literature.

Religious Property Damage WorldwideOur analysis found that governments damaged the property of religious groups in 34 countries around the world in 2012 (the most recent year with available data). Though such actions were most common in the Middle East-North Africa region (in seven of 20 countries in that region), property was damaged by governments in every region of the world. Destruction of religious property was least prevalent in the Americas, where two countries, Venezuela and Cuba, of 35, saw destruction of religious property.

In the Asia–Pacific, governments damaged religious property in 16 of 50 countries in that region in 2012.

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