World

In China, Christians Weep As Paramilitary Police Level Their Church With Explosives

In China, Christians Weep As Paramilitary Police Level Their Church With Explosives

On Sunday, police sealed the Golden Lampstand church in Linfen before vandalizing it, witnessed the head priest.

A huge church purportedly built with nearly £2 million raised from local worshippers in one of China's poorest regions has been demolished by authorities, the latest flashpoint between religious groups and the officially atheist Communist Party.

Authorities however routinely crack down on construction of unauthorized places of worship and dozens of churches have been demolished in recent years. Officials often prosecute such choices, however, and some of Golden Lampstand Church's leaders have been imprisoned for one to seven years, simply for serving at their church. Chinese authorities are about to implement new law for religions.

Authorities in China's inland province of Shanxi have blown up a Christian church, saying it was illegally constructed.

Chinese citizens officially have freedom of belief under the constitution but the authorities tightly control religious groups and churches, which have to swear allegiance to state-controlled "patriotic" associations to avoid any foreign influence through religion.

As many as 1,200 crosses have been removed from churches in Zhejiang province since 2015, with officials arguing that numerous demolitions have been down to building code violations.

In an earlier crackdown in 2009, squads of the Chinese regime's security goons descended on the church to smash the building and seize bibles from its members, according to ChinaAid.

Charges of land or building violations and disturbing the peace are among the most common.

He added: "ChinaAid calls on the global community to openly condemn the bombing of this church building and urge the Chinese government to fairly compensate the Christians who paid for it and immediately cease these alarming demolitions of churches".




ChinaAid President and Founder Bob Fu has urged the government to stop demolishing churches and to compensate the Christians who paid for the building.

Pictures distributed by ChinaAid showed the church's steeple and cross toppled in a large pile of rubble.

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

"It is like Taliban/[Daesh] style of persecution against a peaceful church", he said, adding that it had around 50,000 members. He later heard a loud explosion.

Head pastor Yang Rongli said that Golden Lampstand was built at the cost of 17 million yuan (US$2.6 million).

The couple had been preaching around Linfen since 1992, establishing congregations in improvised spaces such as factory dormitories and greenhouses.

The church member, speaking on condition of anonymity, said a large anti-riot team carried out the demolition.

On Dec. 27, authorities also demolished a Catholic church in Shaanxi province, southwest of Shanxi province, destroying an altar and confiscating vestments, according to ChinaAid.


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