08/19/2016, 11.04
CHINA
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After the crosses, Zhejiang bans religion from hospitals

For the past two years the authorities of the Eastern Province have been carrying out a campaign against the symbols and the Christian presence. The latest act involves treatment centers, where today "all forms of religious activity are banned". It is now forbidden to pray, preach and receive priests or Protestant pastors at the bedside of the sick.

Wenzhou (AsiaNews) - After crosses and churches, the communist authorities in the eastern province of Zhejiang have set their sights on the religious comfort to the sick. A circular issued by the public authorities informs that as of today "all forms of religious activity are banned " in public hospitals, which basically represent the totality of health institutions in the country.

The Central Hospital of Wenzhou – a city once known as the "Jerusalem of China" for the huge concentration of Christians - posted the note in the main hall. Nurses and employees are instructed also to explain the new rules to patients and visitors. The Central Hospital was founded and directed for years by a Protestant congregation.

An employee of the hospital told Radio Free Asia: "The religious activities in the hospital have never been encouraged. But some prayed silently, which is understandable: on the other hand we are all here to support patients. But others made noise, reading the Bible or reciting prayers aloud. And that's not good".

The new orders "plan to immediately explain to patients that this is not allowed in the hospital. If they break the rules, they will be contacted by the doctors and nurses. " Besides praying, more or less vocally, "it is also forbidden to receive ministers and pastors".

Thus Zhejiang confirms its position at the forefront of repression of religious freedom. The campaign against Christian crosses and buildings was launched at the beginning of the year 2014, that is, since Xia Baolong (secretary of the local Party) noted that there were "too many "crosses visible on the skyline of Wenzhou. The faithful believe today that the real reason behind this campaign is to reduce the impact and influence of the Christian communities, both official and underground, in Chinese society, which have witnessed a dramatic increase in conversions.

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