Authorities in China demolished a large church in the city of Linfen, Shanxi province on January 9, despite efforts by worshippers to halt the demolition and who were then pressured to remain silent, according to witnesses.
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. But still occasionally pastors are arrested and buildings are destroyed because authorities considered them unofficial groups who gather in a building for worship.
Although the Chinese Constitution guarantees freedom of religion, authorities implement strict regulations when it comes to that matter.
Christians in China prefer to worship independently in house churches because there are no such restraints.
Officially, Chinese citizens are free to practice the religion of their choice, but the government tightly controls spiritual life and in some cases bans certain groups. This indicates that the order to destroy the church came from China's top officials instead of the less-powerful local authorities. Officials launched a sweeping crackdown on churches in Zhejiang province that accelerated in 2015, and more than 1,200 crosses have been removed, according to activists. "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".
Christians have protested against church demolitions, with a video captured in Shanxi in August showing a clash between Catholics and government representatives who were using bulldozers to destroy church property.
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Chinese authorities detonated explosives in an underground worship hall earlier this week, ChinaAid, a USA -based Christian advocacy group, reports.
A pastor at a nearby church, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said he saw large numbers of paramilitary police on Tuesday surrounding the area around the church, which was being taken apart by heavy machinery.
"The repeated persecution of Golden Lampstand Church demonstrates that the Chinese government has no respect for religious freedom or human rights", said ChinaAid President and founder Bob Fu. He later heard a loud explosion.
"It has now been demolished", a church member said.
Lampstand's head Pastor, Yang Rongli, had previously spent seven years in prison on charges of assembling a large crowd to disturb traffic order, and has been under police surveillance since his release in October 2016.
The government had no logic of smashing the Golden Lampstand chapel since it was constructed in 2008 costing 17m yuan said a female head priest Yang Rongli. Many members of the church, though, witnessed the demolition from a distance and wept for their church's destruction.