HONG KONG — Chinese police officers demolished one particular of the country’s biggest evangelical churches this week, utilizing heavy machinery and dynamite to raze the developing where more than 50,000 Christians worshiped.
The Golden Lampstand Church in Shanxi Province was one particular of at least two Christian churches demolished by the authorities in recent weeks, component of what critics describe as a national work to regulate spiritual life in China.
Below President Xi Jinping, the government has destroyed churches or removed their steeples and crosses as component of a campaign that reflects the Communist Party’s longstanding worry that Christianity, viewed as a Western philosophy, is a threat to the party’s authority.
International Occasions, a state newspaper, described the building’s destruction as part of a “citywide campaign to remove illegal buildings,” and quoted an unidentified official as saying that the church had been “secretly” constructed with no proper permits and was initially disguised as a warehouse.
Members of the megachurch, even so, have previously clashed with the authorities, such as in 2009 when the police confiscated Bibles and imprisoned numerous of the congregation’s leaders.
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 creating, according to ChinaAid, an American watchdog group that monitors religious freedom in China.
“The repeated persecution of Golden Lampstand Church demonstrates that the Chinese government has no respect for religious freedom or human rights,” stated Bob Fu, the group’s founder.
ChinaAid said that the building was built by the married evangelists Wang Xiaoguang and Yang Rongli with practically $3 million in contributions from nearby Christians, but that it had in no way been registered with the authorities, a legal requirement.
Officially, Chinese citizens are totally free to practice the religion of their selection, but the government tightly controls spiritual life, and in some instances bans specific groups, like Falun Gong.
On Dec. 27, the authorities also demolished a Catholic church in Shaanxi Province, southwest of Shanxi Province, destroying an altar and confiscating vestments, according to ChinaAid.
Far more than 60 million Christians reside in China, at least half of whom worship in unregistered churches.
Published at Fri, 12 Jan 2018 09:32:19 +0000