A groundbreaking ceremony for a Protestant church in Hong Kong was met by a rare protest from local residents who said the building would clash with their traditional Chinese folk religion beliefs.
Villagers of Ma Tin Village in the New Territories protested against the proposed seven-story construction that would contain a home for the elderly and a house of worship for the Evangelical Gospel Lutheran Church, which manages the site.
Protesters shouted over Secretary for Development Chan Mo-po when he addressed the Dec. 13 ceremony.
“Our villagers believe in Chinese folk religions. The church will clash with our faith,” a village spokesperson told the press. “It is alright to build a school or kindergarten but not others.”
Protesters also were concerned that the potentially frequent arrivals of ambulances and hearses to the home for the elderly would affect the village’s feng shui, a Chinese tradition widely practiced to orientate buildings as a way to bring good luck.
The Rev. Lee Man-yuk told ucanews.com he was surprised by the strong response from protesters, although he had received police notification days ago that they would appear.
The Rev. Lee said the church had earlier responded to villagers concerns by redesigning the building to move the church to a less visible place. The church altered the plans after consulting with village chiefs, he said.
Despite the protests, the Rev. Lee said construction of the building will continue.
“There are too few churches in the neighborhood, where an estimated 80,000 population is expected to move in under the town planning,” he said.
There are 480,000 Protestants among Hong Kong’s 7.24 million population.