Tuesday, 16 October, 2018

Chinese authorities demolish Christian church

China's Golden Lampstand Church falls.   The Guardian via YouTube China's Golden Lampstand Church falls. The Guardian via YouTube
Kenny Thornton | 14 January, 2018, 03:18

Police cordoned off the area around the Golden Lampstand Church church in Linfen, Shanxi province, on Sunday before construction workers detonated explosives inside, according to witnesses and the head pastor.

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. Prior to its destruction, many of Golden Lampstand Church's leaders had been heavily persecuted and some were imprisoned, according to reports by ChinaAid, a Christian NGO based in Midland, Texas.

An evangelical megachurch was destroyed by Chinese Communist authorities Tuesday in the country's northern Shanxi province, sparking fears among Christians that the persecution they suffer will soon get worse.

Christians in China prefer to worship independently in house churches because there are no such restraints. Millions of Christians, Buddhists and Muslims also worship in state-sanctioned assemblies.

Two recent church demolitions in China have sparked fears that the government could be launching a wider crackdown on Christianity as it gears up for tighter restrictions on religion.

But the surging popularity of non-state-approved churches has raised the ire of authorities, wary of any threats to the officially atheist Communist Party's rigid political and social control. Churches that refuse to register do so in order to opt out of government monitoring.

According to the state-run Global Times newspaper, the church building was demolished because it lacked the necessary permits and had violated building violations.

On Tuesday, officers of the People's Armed Police, a state paramilitary organization, detonated explosives in the church's underground sanctuary and destroyed the rest of the building, according to ChinaAid, a USA watchdog group that monitors religious freedom in China.

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There were "more police than I could count" preventing a crowd on onlookers and worshipers from approaching the site, the pastor said.

Bob Fu said the repeated persecution of Golden Lampstand Church demonstrates that the Chinese government has no respect for religious freedom or human rights.

He later heard, but did not witness, a loud explosion, the pastor said.

"My heart was sad to see this demolition and now I worry about more churches being demolished, even my own", he said.

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

Another Catholic church was pulverized in Shaanxi in province last month. Officials smashed crosses and confiscated statues, the Eucharistic altar, and other religious artefacts as they demolished the building with heavy machinery, the organisation said.

A church member who spoke on condition of anonymity told Radio Free Asia (RFA) that the demolition was conducted by "anti-riot team, quite large".

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