A Chinese province where authorities have forcibly removed hundreds of rooftop crosses from skylines of cities and towns has proposed a ban on any further placement of the religious symbol atop sanctuaries at both Protestant and Catholic churches.

The draft, if approved, would give authorities in the eastern province of Zhejiang legal grounds to remove rooftop crosses.

Since early 2014, Zhejiang officials have toppled crosses from more than 400 churches, sometimes resulting in violent clashes with congregation members. They say the crosses violate building codes, but critics say the rapid growth of Christian groups have made the ruling Communist Party nervous.

“The authorities have attached great importance to this religious symbol,” said Zheng Leguo, a pastor from the province who now lives in the United States. “This means no more prominent manifestation of Christianity in the public sphere.”

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