It was December 11, the Ruiyun Temple in China’s southern city of Fuzhou was sealed and surrounded by security guards. The two nuns, one aged 70 and the other 84, were carried out. To them, this could be the end of their 3 year long fight to keep the temple intact.
Ruiyun Temple was built in 1896 and has since been holding an important position in China’s Buddhism world because a very famous local Buddha is here. The temple was ordered to move 3 years ago to make way for a real estate project aiming at renovating the old town. That was the start of the two nuns’ nightmare.
By Chinese law, before demolishing religious venues for urban development, local governments must first get the nod from related religious groups. But the nuns in Ruiyun Temple never agreed to anything. In fact, they were not given the chance to. Local government in Fuzhou set up a “management committee” made up by nearby villagers and forced the nuns and followers living in the temple out of the negotiation process.
Three years have passed, no agreement has been made. No one in the temple knows where the moving compensation money goes. And the ones who want to keep the temple find nowhere to appeal. But the temple has to go.
On the morning of December 8, the entire temple was surrounded by machineries and strangers with tools, tools that can tear things apart and smash Buddha statues. By 9 am that morning, Ruiyun Temple was completed cut off. Local police came but only to prevent journalists from taking pictures. When the demolition team finally left around 9 pm that night, almost everything in the temple was either taken away or in pieces.
To the ears of many Chinese, the story is painfully familiar. The last time when temples were in danger in China, it was the Cultural Revolution. “Reading this news about tearing down temples and evicting nuns is like reading the history. Is the current government heading towards an end like the other Dynasties in history?” One netizen 三水吉喵 asked.
The most shocking thing about the story, like many netizens commented, is that the local government showed no respect to religion: “Money and power are the only things that they worship.” In the comments left to the news, most netizens agreed that in the Buddhist law of causation, the ones who were involved in the force demolition will one day get the “fruits” of their karma.
“They can tear down a temple, but they can never tear down people’s faith.” One netizen _小猫种鱼_ commented. In a short video shot by journalists from iFeng, the 84-year-old nun living in the temple calmly finished her last worship of each and every Buddha in the temple, only 20 minutes before the force demolition started.