Chinese authorities demolish church

Chinese authorities demolish church

A CHRISTIAN mega-church was demolished by authorities in China, highlighting tensions between religious groups and the atheist Communist Party.

All that is left of the Golden Lampstand Church in the city of Linfen in Shanxi province is the church's steeple and cross which now lays on top of a large pile of rubble.

ChinaAid, a US-based Christian advocacy group, said local authorities planted explosives in an underground worship hall to demolish the building following, constructed with almost $2.6m (£1.9m) in contributions from local worshippers in one of China's poorest regions.

The church, with a congregation of more than 50,000, has long clashed with the government.

The Guardian reports that a Catholic church in the neighboring province of Shaanxi was also demolished in a similar fashion last month, which is stoking fears among Christians that the widespread crackdown on churches continues in full force.

In an annual report on freedom of religion, the U.S. state department found that "the government physically abused, detained, arrested, tortured, sentenced to prison, or harassed adherents of both registered and unregistered religious groups for activities related to their religious beliefs and practices".

"China repeatedly cracks down on house churches, which are churches that refuse to register, often to opt out of government monitoring".

A demolition crew broke apart the remaining pieces of the church after the explosion with diggers and jackhammers.

Yang previously spent seven years in jail on charges of "assembling a crowd to disturb traffic order" and has been under police surveillance since her release in October 2016, according to China Aid.


A local pastor, who asked not to be named, said that he saw "more police than I could count" at the site, preventing worshipers from approaching.

China has been targeting unregistered churches such as Golden Lampstand.

The Golden Lampstand Church was built by husband and wife evangelists Wang Xiaoguang and Yang Rongli as a permanent home for their followers.

"I think this might be a new pattern against any independent house churches with an existing building or intention to build one", Bob Fu, founder of China Aid told The Guardian. Workers smashed the church's glass.

Church officials and lawyers opposing the move have been detained. "At this point, excavators are digging into the church, but we are not allowed to enter or watch".

While authorities did not block the church's construction, they later cracked down.

He said: "The repeated persecution of Golden Lampstand Church demonstrates that the Chinese government has no respect for religious freedom or human rights".

"A Christian offered his farmland to a local Christian association and they secretly built a church using the cover of building a warehouse", a government department official was quoted as saying.

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